Honda in Swindon says a voluntary redundancy programme will be offered to its associates in a bid to reduce compulsory redundancies.

Letters have gone out this week to all associates giving full details of the plans and what they could stand to receive if they opted to leave the company.

Associates have until March 13 to get their applications in and Honda will reserve the right to either accept or refuse the offer.

Letters were handed to all employees last month informing them that they were  at risk of losing their jobs, and the consultation process is moving towards a critical stage.

The company has been locked in meetings with associate representatives, including the union Unite, which is representing about 3,000 of the employees, as they try to work out the best way to reduce the number of compulsory redundancies.

A spokesman for Honda said: “Honda of the UK Manufacturing can confirm that a voluntary redundancy programme will be offered to associates.

“It is hoped that by taking this step, HUM can minimise the requirement for compulsory redundancies.

“Associates have today received full details about the programme and the voluntary redundancy window will run from February 18 with applications accepted until March 13.”

Unite has set out three aims, which include reducing the number of redundancies, mitigating redundancies and resolution.

Unite staff say they take encouragement from the voluntary redundancy agreement because it is more than Honda wanted to agree to at the beginning.

Jim D’Avila, Unite’s regional organiser, said: “We believe that the package is now substantially more than Honda had wanted to pay.

“We know that it was never going to be enough for most people but we are in difficult times.

“Honda set out a package which we rejected and we went back to them with what we wanted, which was then rejected by Honda and now we have come to an agreement.

“We haven’t finished negotiations and we will make sure we reduce the number of compulsory redundancies for Honda associates.”