GM hourly workers face permanent layoffs

November 6, 2009 http://detnews.com/article/20091106/auto01/911060360

GM hourly workers face permanent layoffs

ROBERT SNELL
The Detroit News

Detroit — While General Motors Co. does not plan any deep job cuts, the automaker still has too many hourly workers and could permanently eliminate some of the 6,000 to 7,000 workers currently on layoff.

Some of the workers are temporarily or indefinitely laid off and while GM is adding shifts at a few plants to boost output, some of the workers not called back could lose their jobs, CEO Fritz Henderson said Thursday at the Renaissance Center.

"If it turns out after a period of time, that those people aren’t required, then basically they will leave the company," he said. "That’s the way it works."

Yet there are encouraging signs. GM is adding a shift to a Canadian plant and may add a shift at its Fairfax plant in Kansas.

Henderson also discussed Tuesday’s board vote to keep Adam Opel GmbH instead of selling it to Canada’s Magna International Inc. and its Russian partner, Sberbank. He said by the end of this month GM will repay a $2.2 billion bridge loan that kept Opel afloat until a deal could be finalized or rejected.

There are options available for Opel to finance the $4.4 billion it needs to restructure, he said. It could tap cash reserves or reduce royalties GM charges Opel for use of its technology. Also, since emerging from bankruptcy, GM is not barred from spending some of the $50 billion in federal aid it has received on its overseas units.

GM will submit a restructuring plan soon to Germany and other governments that could entail 10,000 job cuts and a roughly 30 percent cut in structural costs.

Thousands of German workers staged a mass walkout Thursday in protest of GM’s decision.

Magna Co-Chief Executive Don Walker, speaking on the supplier’s third-quarter earnings call, said: "We’ll continue to support Opel and GM, and hope our business will continue to grow with them."


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