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by Matt Brogan

BMW has announced it will scrap 850 jobs at its Mini plant in Oxford, England.

The brand, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in August, has made the decision following falling sales in the wake of the global economic downturn.

Initially weekend shift workers will go when the cuts begin on March 2. BMW will then operate the plant five days a week instead of the current seven.

The Mini factory, which employs about 4,500 workers, produced 235,000 cars last year though sales have recently fallen some 34.5 percent (January month-on-month figures).

BMW said the sales drop was in part due to the lack of availability of the Mini Convertible, which accounts for 16 percent of Mini sales. Production of the Mini Convertible ended in mid 2008 and a new model will launch in March.




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