Deadline day arrives for Ford white-collar buyouts

Monday marked the final day that white-collar Ford Motor Co. workers could accept buyout or early retirement offers as the ailing company looks to cut costs.

Ford, which reported a $12.7 billion (EUR9.67 billion) loss for 2006, is hoping that 10,000 salaried employees accept the offers after 4,000 left the company last year. The goal of trimming 14,000 salaried workers represents about 36 percent of the automaker's white-collar work force.

The Dearborn-based automaker has said that if it does not meet its target, it could institute layoffs to make up the difference.

"It's just a little too early for us to know at this point," Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans told the Detroit Free Press. She said the company would resort to layoffs "only if it's necessary."

Ford in November announced that 38,000 hourly workers had accepted buyout or early retirement packages. The No. 2 domestic automaker wants to reduce its total North American work force by 29 percent, to about 92,000 by the end of 2008 from the current level of 130,000, and close 16 plants.

Salaried workers who accept the deals will have another seven days to change their minds. Evans said information about the number of workers who accept the deals will not be available until April, when Ford releases its first-quarter financial results.

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