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GM cuts on track as 66,000 workers take buyouts

CHICAGO, Aug 3 – General Motors said Monday that some 66,000 unionized workers in the United States have now accepted early retirement packages aimed at slashing its workforce.

More than 6,000 people clocked in for their final day of work on Friday in the latest round of buyouts which began in 2006, the automaker said.

"We are pleased with the number of eligible employees who participated in the attrition program," said Diana Tremblay, GM North America vice president of labor relations.

"One of the very tough, but necessary actions to position the company for long-term viability and success is to reduce our total US workforce, both hourly and salaried employees."

GM, which emerged from bankruptcy protection on July 10, has been radically downsizing its operations over the past four years as it struggles to cope with bleeding balance sheets and a steady loss of market share to Asian rivals.

GM\’s hourly US workforce now totals 48,000 people, less than half the 105,000 unionized workers it employed at the end of 2005.

GM\’s salaried US workforce totaled 27,000 at the end of the first quarter, down from 36,000 at the end of 2005.

Further cuts are expected overseas, as GM slices around another 30,000 people from its global workforce, which current stands at 229,000 people.

GM\’s global workforce will then be down 40 percent from the 335,000 people it employed in 2005.

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GM\’s global employment topped 600,000 people (of which 464,000 were in the United States) back in 1962, when GM sold half the cars in the United States.

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