HUNDREDS of job losses at Oxford's BMW Mini plant have been put on hold after an 'unexpected' increase in global demand.

The car plant was due to move from a three-shift week to a two-shift week from next month to account for a large drop in sales due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It would have resulted in about 400 agency workers, more than 40 per cent of agency staff at the Cowley plant, would be cut.

BMW has warned, however, due to the 'unpredictable' market during Covid-19 the situation would be kept under close review and it could not guarantee the trend would continue.

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There are currently approximately 950 agency workers at the moment, all through the GI Group.

In a process due to be completed by next week, the key factors used to decide which workers to be let go were: length of service, skill set and disciplinary record.

A BMW spokesman said: “We can confirm that our proposed shift pattern change at Mini Plant Oxford, scheduled for mid-October, has been postponed due to recent and unexpected improvements in global customer demand.

"In light of higher than expected order volumes for Mini in October we have made the decision to maintain the three-shift pattern that we currently have in place at the plant."

He added: “We remain in close dialogue with trade union representatives and are keeping our workforce, including agency employees, fully informed of any developments during this uncertain and unpredictable time.

"The continuing market volatility posed by the Covid-19 pandemic means that we cannot say whether, or for how long, positive market trends will continue, and we will of course be keeping the situation under close review in the weeks and months ahead.”

Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds said: "I am relieved to hear that the job cuts at the Mini Plant have been put on hold due to an increase in global orders.

"This is great news for the plant, the workers, and their families."

She added: "However, it remains a concerning time for many in the manufacturing industry, and the government must ensure there is sectoral support to ensure our manufacturing sector can remain strong and save local jobs."