NEW YORK, Feb 13 – General Motors said it was offering voluntary buyouts or early retirement packages to all its hourly production workers as part of the troubled automaker\’s overhaul.
GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson said the offer "is available to all 62,000 hourly employees" covered by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.
"Of those, approximately 22,000 are retirement-eligible, so taking the incentive would move them into retirement," he said.
"The goal is to allow us to hire more tier-two workers (who start with a lower wage and benefit cost) once business starts to pick up again."
GM\’s current contract with the UAW allows the company, with the union\’s consent, to offer buyouts if business conditions warrant cutbacks.
The news came two days after GM said it would cut 10,000 white-collar jobs worldwide this year as part of a restructuring plan the struggling automaker submitted to the government in exchange for an emergency loan.
Wilkinson said the latest actions "are part of the ongoing restructuring of the company, which has been accelerated by the economic crisis and the terms of the government loan program."
The biggest US automaker will release an update of the restructuring February 17 as part of the requirements for the government loan.
GM has received 9.4 billion dollars from the US Treasury to avert running out of cash as it struggles with a massive sales downturn. The government may release an addition four billion dollars if the company addresses concerns about its viability.
GM will issue its quarterly financial results "some time after the plan," according to Wilkinson.
The company has piled up some 72 billion dollars in losses since 2005.