Volkswagen-owned British luxury carmaker Bentley has followed up earlier production cuts by axing 220 jobs, or almost 6% of its British workforce, and temporarily cutting pay 10% for remaining staff.

“We are taking action to sustain the long-term viability of the company and retain key skills for when we emerge from the economic downturn,” a spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse (AFP). “We will do everything we can to support those affected.”

Bentley had earlier said it would suspend production for up to seven weeks from March because of falling demand, although staff would still be paid during the closure.

“Bentley, along with other motoring manufacturers, has been hit by the global economic slowdown,” the spokeswoman said.

“With the situation likely to remain like it is throughout 2009 we thought it sensible to reduce our outgoings and headcount.”

She also revealed that salaries for remaining workers  – including CEO Franz-Josef Paefgen – would be reduced by 10% from April until the end of 2009.

UK car sales fell 30% in January and recent events include the axing of 1,200 jobs at Nissan, cutbacks at Toyota, a four-month closure of Honda’s plant and a GBP2.3bn government loan package for the beleaguered automakers.