Sun, Jul 24, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Ford considering more aggressive staff reductions

AP , DETROIT

After a disappointing performance in the first half of the year, Ford Motor Co is considering cutting more salaried workers, a company spokesman said on Friday.

Ford spokesman Oscar Suris wouldn't confirm a report in the Wall Street Journal that said Ford may lay off up to 30 percent of its white-collar work force -- about 10,500 of its 35,000 salaried workers -- in North America over the next few years.

But he noted that earlier this week, Ford Chief Financial Officer Don Leclair said "nothing is off the table" when asked about possible cuts during a conference call to discuss second-quarter earnings.

Ford already has announced plans to reduce its salaried work force in North America by 2,700 people by the end of this year. It also has said it will reduce the use of agency workers and other purchased services by 10 percent.

But Suris said the company, the US' second-biggest automaker, is considering even more aggressive measures.

"We have operating challenges that include our cost structure and excessive production capacity, and we have plans to address that," Suris said.

On Tuesday, Dearborn-based Ford said it earned US$946 million in the April-June period versus a profit of US$1.17 billion in the year-earlier period. It lost US$907 million in North America, down US$1.4 billion from a year ago. Ford's US sales were down nearly 4 percent in the first six months of this year.

Ford had announced in April it wanted to eliminate 1,000 salaried jobs by June 30 through voluntary buyouts. Not enough employees volunteered, so the company began laying off some employees after June 30, Suris said.

Suris added that just over 1,000 people have left the company since April through buyouts and layoffs.

Ford last offered a buyout in 2003, when it cut about 3,000 jobs through voluntary buyouts and layoffs. The company also offered buyouts to around 5,000 employees in 2002.

Ford shares rose US$0.08 to close at US$10.72 in trading Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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