• Jaguar Land Rover has about 33,000 workers across UK
  • Jaguar Land Rover is owned by Tata Motors of India
  • Last year, Jaguar Land Rover unveiled plans to cut 4,500 jobs from its global workforce

Jaguar Land Rover, the U.K.’s largest automaker said it will slash 500 jobs at its plant in Halewood in northern England as the company plans reduce the work schedule there from three shifts to two a day by April.

The company has forecast disappointing sales for the Evoque and Discovery Sport models produced at Halewood. Jaguar also is facing falling sales in China, lower demand for diesel cars and uncertainties about how Brexit will affect the auto industry.

A Jaguar spokeswoman on Wednesday said: “Through its ongoing transformation program, Jaguar Land Rover is taking action to optimize performance, enable sustainable growth and safeguard the long-term success of our business.

Jaguar has about 4,000 permanent employees at the Halewood location, which is located near Liverpool.

The union Unite, which represents more of the workers at Halewood, said job losses will impact both permanent employees and agency staff.

Last year, Jaguar announced plans to cut 4,500 jobs from its global workforce under a $3.3 billion plan to stem losses.

Jaguar already cut 1,000 jobs at its Solihull U.K. factory in 2018.

Across the U.K., Jaguar employs about 33,000 workers.

Jaguar, which is owned by India’s Tata Motors, reportedly wants to free up cash in order to invest in electric vehicles.

Unite's national officer Des Quinn warned that: "Until the government ensures there is long-term frictionless trade and no tariffs with the European Union, the U.K.'s car industry will continue to experience severe challenges."

Moreover, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, warned that tariffs could be slapped on U.K. car imports if the British government moves to impose a digital tax on American tech companies.

In fiscal 2019, Jaguar posted a loss of about $4.73 billion.

“The challenges being faced at [Jaguar] are also being experienced by other U.K. car factories,” added Quinn. “The U.K.’s car industry has plummeted from being the jewel in the crown of the U.K.’s manufacturing sector in a few short years, directly as a result of government inaction.”

Maria Eagle, a Labour Party MP who represents Halewood, called the job cuts an “existential threat” to Liverpool’s manufacturing sector.

Eagle said she will ask for an urgent meeting with government ministers to discuss the matter.

“Given the ongoing uncertainty about Brexit and the U.K.’s trading relationship with the EU, worse may be to come,” Eagle said in a session of the House of Commons on Wednesday. “Can you advise me, Mr. Speaker, about how I can ensure that ministers and the [Prime Minister] himself take this existential threat to the auto-manufacturing industry in Liverpool as seriously as they should and seek to help those losing their jobs as much as they can?”

Eagle had earlier said: “This shocking news is a real blow to our manufacturing economy in Garston and Halewood. Apart from the 500 jobs to go at [Jaguar], 10% of the workforce, there will be knock-on effects in the supply chain. We are told that this [has] nothing to do with Brexit but I am worried that the ongoing uncertainty about our future trading relationship with the EU will mean there are more job losses to come in the northwest auto industry.”

Steve Rotheram, the mayor of the Liverpool metro region, called the news “devastating” and tweeted on Wednesday that he would be working with both Unite and Knowsley Council leader Graham Morgan “to do what we can locally to support the plant and the workforce.”

Rotheram added: “The government also needs to be stepping in to support vital U.K. manufacturing.”