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Feb 10, 2009

General Motors to slash 10,000 salaried jobs

General Motors Corp, staying afloat with $13.4 billion in federal rescue loans, announced early today that it is cutting its worldwide salaried workforce by 10,000, or 14%, this year and temporarily reducing the pay for a majority of its U.S. white-collar workforce.

"These difficult actions are necessitated by a severe drop in vehicle sales worldwide and by the need to restructure GM for long term viability," the company said in a statement.
GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner, who was meeting with congressional leaders in Washington about global warming legislation, said the 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.”

The Detroit automaker is racing to put together a long-term viability plan to present to the government Feb. 17. It has said it needs to cut its U.S. salaried and hourly workforce by as much as 31,500 people through 2012.

“The announcement this week begins implementation of this aspect of the plan,” the company said.

In the U.S., GM's salaried workforce of 29,500 will be cut by about 3,400, or 12%, by May 1.

In a statement, GM said the job cuts “will be made using GM separation programs and policies which provide for severance payments, benefit contributions and outplacement assistance.”

The company also said executive employees in the United States will have their base pay cut by 10% and "many other" salaried employees will see reductions ranging from 3% to 7%. The U.S. pay reductions will also go into effect May 1 and will be in effect through the end of the year.

One 20-year GM employee said he heard the news on the radio this morning but had the day off, so he hadn’t had time to talk to coworkers yet. Anxiety, he said, was already running high before the announcement.

“Frankly, I am still trying to take it all in,” said the employee, who did not want to be identified.

“Everybody is worried and they are concerned,” he said. “It’s really been a situation where you don’t know what’s going to happen. And you are kind of waiting for whatever the next shoe is to drop.”

The employee, who works at the GM Technical Center in Warren, said his wife works for an automotive parts supplier and her job is also at risk.

“When you look at the economy in general, you know its not just General Motors,” he said. “If it was just General Motors, you could look someplace else for a job.”

Dustin Suppes, 29, of Novi, said, "I had heard rumblings and I figured it would be sooner rather than later because the viability plan is due the 17th and we're getting pretty close to that."

A white-collar worker at Delphi Corp., which is GM’s largest supplier and has been struggling to emerge from bankruptcy, said today’s news out of GM only further sank the mood at Delphi. He did not want to be identified for fears of repercussions in the current environment.

“Are people on suicide watch? No,” he said. “But they are trying to survive. The news is coming out faster and faster, so people are more apprehensive every day and every week.”

Workers there are also concerned, he said, that Delphi will implement pay cuts similar to the ones GM announced.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see Delphi, Visteon and others follow suit,” he said.

The job cuts announced at GM follow a slew of job cuts announced at major employers nationwide over the past few months. About 600,000 jobs were lost in January, bringing U.S. unemployment to 7.6%. The number of unemployed Americans now stands at 11.6 million.

GM salaried retiree Gerald Patrick, 69, of Shelby Township said he thinks the news about the additional GM job cuts comes at a terrible time.

“For every good-paying automotive job that's lost, I think you have six to 10 other people affected,” he said. “It's a big snowball, and it just keeps gathering people and jobs and getting bigger and bigger. … It’s getting bigger and getting faster.”

Patrick said somebody needs to step in to stop the job losses from getting any worse.

“We need to do what we can to protect these jobs,” he said. “Something has got to be done.”

Source : Freep
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