- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 11, 2009

NEW YORK

General Motors Corp. is planning to slash another 10,000 salaried jobs this year, saying the cuts are unavoidable with a government restructuring deadline looming and industrywide sales in one of the worst downturns in history.

The Detroit-based automaker said Tuesday it will reduce its total number of white-collar workers to 63,000 from 73,000. About 3,400, or 12 percent, of GM’s 29,500 salaried U.S. jobs will be eliminated.

Most of the company’s remaining salaried employees will have their wages cut.

In its plan to Congress submitted late last year, GM said it would have to reduce both salaried and hourly positions so that the company could become viable long-term. The company plans to reduce its total U.S. work force from 96,537 people in 2008 to between 65,000 and 75,000 in 2012, but did not specify how many of the surviving jobs will be salaried or hourly.

GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner, who was meeting with congressional leaders in Washington about global-warming legislation, said Tuesday’s announcement is “indicative of the kind of things we need to do to get this viability plan in shape and respond to these tough market conditions.”

GM has dramatically downsized both its salaried and hourly work forces in recent years as the U.S. auto market has shrunk from an annual sales rate of around 16 million vehicles to 13.2 million last year.

Since 2000, GM’s salaried work force has shrunk by 33 percent from its 2000 high of 44,000 people. At the same time, the number of hourly workers has plunged by more than half - to about 63,700 people at the end of last year from 133,000 in 2000.

Most of the cuts announced Tuesday are expected to take place by May 1. GM said the cuts will vary by global regions, depending on staffing levels and market conditions.

The company’s statement said there would be no buyout or early-retirement packages as GM had offered in the past, but laid-off employees will get severance pay, benefit contributions and other assistance.

GM also said it will cut the pay of most of its salaried U.S. workers effective May 1. The pay cuts will be re-evaluated at the end of the year, the automaker said.

The wages of U.S. executive employees will be cut by 10 percent, while other salaried workers will see cuts of 3 percent to 7 percent, it said.

GM faces a Feb. 17 deadline to present a plan to the government showing the wounded automaker can become viable. GM has received $9.4 billion in aid from the Treasury Department so far and expects to get $4 billion more, but the government can demand repayment March 31 if it determines the company can’t become viable.

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