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GM: No layoffs planned in '04
Gains in productivity, attrition and cost reductions preclude reductions, Cowger says
By Ed Garsten / The Detroit News

DETROIT — A combination of cost reductions, productivity improvements and attrition at General Motors Corp. has been so effective the automaker will hold the line this year on job cuts, executives said Monday.

GM hopes to reduce its salaried work force by 3 percent to 6 percent this year, about the same as in 2003 — all through retirements and resignations — GM North America president Gary Cowger said in an interview Monday.

“(Any salaried job cuts) will vary by staff and engineering group,” Cowger said.

No layoffs or buyouts are planned as in recent years.

At the end of the third quarter, GM had 40,000 salaried workers in the United States and total worldwide employment of 340,000.

GM’s relatively old work force means some new hiring may take place in order to replace some retirees, GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said.

“The track record is to hire some people back — certainly less than one-to-one,” Wagoner said. “The total numbers within GM employment are going to continue to ease down.”

In 2001 and 2002, GM set targets to reduce its salaried and contract work force by 10 percent, and overachieved the goal in 2002 when more employees than expected accepted voluntary retirement packages.

“We’ve been careful in hiring,” said John Devine, GM’s vice chairman and chief financial officer. “We’ve done some but we’ve done it very cautiously.”

GM is coming off a year in which its financial fortunes turned on a dime.

(Full story here)
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