Around a quarter of jobs are to be lost at an East Ayrshire factory as part of an engineering firm’s workforce reduction plans, a union has claimed.

Unite said Mahle Engine Systems plans to cut more than 40 jobs from its Kilmarnock plant, where it has 181 employees.

The union said the move would be “a hammer blow” and is calling for the highly-skilled jobs to be saved.

Job losses are expected to begin by the end of October with the remainder in the New Year, officials said.

Mahle makes components for motorsport engines, combustion engines and electric vehicles, which can be used in cars and e-bikes, as well as having railroad, marine, and aerospace applications.

Copenhagen – Denmark
The components made at the factory are used in e-bikes (Nick Potts/PA)

The German-owned company announced in mid-September that it was planning to reduce its workforce by 7,600 people in response to the industry collapse caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Europe accounts for around 3,700 of the job losses, of which 2,000 are in Germany, with the rest across Europe.

Mahle has cited a weakening of the global demand in passenger car and truck sales, with vehicle markets not expected to recover for some years, as the primary cause for the massive job cuts.

On September 18, Unite Scotland and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wrote to Boris Johnson, calling for urgent intervention by the UK Government, to preserve the aerospace jobs.

They called for the immediate establishment of a UK aerospace taskforce in order that government, business and trade unions collectively work together to support businesses, workers and communities.

Unite regional industrial officer Paul Bennett said: “The announcement by Mahle Engine Systems that around a quarter of the jobs are to go at its Kilmarnock plant is a hammer blow.

“Unite has been in ongoing talks with Mahle to prevent compulsory redundancies after the parent company said that it was cutting around 3,700 jobs in Europe.

“We continue to do everything possible to stop the 42 job cuts in Kilmarnock and Unite is calling on government at all levels to support us in this fight.

“Thousands of highly-skilled Scottish manufacturing jobs and those supported in the supply-chain are on the brink of being lost forever.

“More support is needed by government if we are to prevent the tsunami of job cuts on the horizon.”

A spokeswoman for Mahle said they had identified an over-capacity of around 45 jobs.

“The identified adjustment needs are based on the structural and strategic requirements Mahle is addressing as part of the global restructuring process of the group, particularly in the context of the technological transformation of the automotive industry, and of our forecasts for the market developments in the coming years,” she said.

“With this in mind, we have performed a very thorough review of all our regions, business areas, and locations in recent months.

“The exact timing and measures per location/plant form part of our discussions with the relevant employee representatives, which are now commencing.

“Please understand that we are not able to communicate any further details at this time.”