GM trims salaried workers

GM trims salaried workers

White-collar ranks thinned slowly in global streamlining

BRYCE G. HOFFMAN
/ The Detroit News

General Motors Co. has quietly begun laying off white-collar workers as it works to consolidate its global operations.

The numbers are small — a dozen here, a dozen there — but more are coming before the end of the year.

“GM is continually seeking ways to improve our operating performance and reduce complexity to deliver a world-class cost structure and profit margins,” spokesman Jay Cooney told The Detroit News. “We are streamlining our business, looking for efficiencies and, to this extent, there could be some headcount reductions and it will be on a global basis.”

The cuts are focused on engineering, product development and corporate operations at General Motors’ headquarters in Detroit’s Renaissance Center. But the company stressed that no mass layoffs are planned.

“In certain parts of the business, we’ll be adding people with specific skill sets and leveraging the flexibility of our contract workers,” Cooney said.

“What’s important is that we are focused on keeping the right skills mix, the right numbers and the right balance of expertise.It’s all about responsible management which will keep us strong.”

The latest downsizing moves are consistent with CEO Dan Akerson’s plan to reorganize the business and better leverage General Motors’ global assets and eliminate duplication of effort worldwide.

“Literally, we have 7,000 more people working on the same amount of work on our competitors,” Akerson told The News in a June interview. “It’s just like the Communist Party in China in the 1960s. There has to be a cultural revolution here.”

“The sun never sets on the GM empire,” he said. “Substitute ‘British Empire.’ That didn’t work either.”

General Motors, which went bankrupt in 2009 and was only saved by a taxpayer bailout, has made progress toward reining in costs under Akerson’s leadership.

Last month, the company posted a third-quarter profit of $1.7 billion.

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