JAPANESE car giant Toyota is to slash working hours at its Deeside factory in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

It follows an announcement last week that production will be temporarily halted because of a shortage of parts coming from Japan.

Engine plants on Deeside Industrial Park and at Burnaston, Derbyshire, will shut down on Good Friday and reopen on May 3.

But the 445 staff returning to work will work just half-day shifts three days per week.

They will continue to be paid for the two days they do not work, but will be expected to work back these hours at a later date.

A Toyota spokesman said: “Following further study and consultation with employee representatives it has been agreed that, in order to manage this reduction, the plant will have two days of non-production each week and limit production to half a shift on the other three days.

“Temporary flexible working arrangements have been agreed and will be adopted from May 3 to enable Fridays throughout May to be designated as a ‘non-attendance’ days.

“On these days employees will still be paid and work back these hours at a later date.”

Remaining non-production time will be used to train staff and bring them up-to-date on their NVQ qualifications.

The spokesman added: “The combination of this and flexible working arrangements will help ensure that we are able to quickly respond to the demand for our products as soon as parts are available and Toyota UK would like to thank its employees for their understanding and support in helping to manage this situation.”

Mark Tami, Alyn and Deeside MP, said it was a “sad” situation which could not be helped.

“These are obviously very difficult times at the moment for the employees and staff of Toyota,” he said.

“We have all witnessed the devastation that occurred in Japan and this is a sad knock-on effect of that situation.

“Toyota is a very responsible company and I am sure it will do all it can to mitigate the problems for its workforce.”

The shutdown will have a knock-on effect on Toyota’s vehicle manufacturing plants at Adapazari in Turkey, Valenciennes in France and the engine plant in Jelcz-Laskowice in Poland.

The firm has also announced similar shutdowns in North America.