General Motors cuts jobs again

&to=http:// ' target=_blank>General Motors yesterday said it plans to cut 25,000 jobs in North America over the next three years as it continues to wrestle with declining sales and crippling costs.

In an address at the struggling motor manufacturer's annual shareholders' meeting, GM chief executive Rick Wagoner also delivered the stark warning that the soaring cost of providing healthcare to its workers in the United States is "putting our future at stake".

Mr Wagoner said the plant closures, cutting almost 8% of GM's workforce, would save the company an annual $2.5bn (Ј1.3bn). He would not speculate on which factories were under threat.

The company last year began implementing plans to cut 12,000 jobs from GM Europe, 10,000 of those in Germany. Mr Wagoner said that division is "moving at a good pace in its turnaround".

GM, the world's largest car company, reported losses of $1.3bn in North America in the first quarter, tells the Guardians Unlimited.

According to the Boston Globe, GM lost $1.3 billion in the first quarter of this year, its biggest quarterly loss in 13 years. Its US sales are down 6.7 percent this year, and its market share has slipped from 27.0 to 25.4 percent in the past year.

At the end of last year GM had 150,000 US jobs, 110,000 of them hourly workers. Its 30 North American assembly plants worked at 85 percent capacity last year, according to a &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Harbour Consulting survey released last week. In addition, Harbour, a manufacturing and management consulting group based in Troy, Mich., reported it takes 27.9 man hours per vehicle to build a Toyota at one of that company's North American plants. For GM, the figure is 34.3 man hours, driving up costs and vehicle price tags.

While there is demand for about 5 million GM vehicles per year, the company could build 6 million. GM chairman and chief executive Rick Wagoner said GM capacity would fall to 5 million by the end of this year.

Stephen Girsky, a Morgan Stanley analyst, in a posting labeled, ''GM: Small Step in the Right Direction," said that it was significant that GM recognized that its financial problems are ''not just about healthcare. Revenue improvements and cost improvements will be necessary."

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