Friday, November 21, 2008

GM and Toyota to cut jobs at their plants in Thailand

By Viparat Jantraprap
BANGKOK: General Motors and Toyota said Thursday that they would cut production at their plants in Thailand, the latest moves by global automakers seeking to cut costs in the face of weak sales and deepening economic gloom.

GM Thailand said that its factory at Rayong, which has a capacity of 130,000 units a year, would close for two months starting in mid-December and that it planned to cut 258 jobs there.

"We plan to close the plant to help control costs, and our 2,000 workers will be paid 75 percent of their monthly salary during the shutdown," Chartchai Suwanasevok, the director of public relations, said, without giving details on the production impact.

The plant produced about 100,000 pickup trucks, SUVs, sedans and compact cars for Thailand, Southeast Asia and Australia in 2007. GM's global output last year was 9.28 million vehicles.

Toyota, which produces 200,000 vehicles a year at its plant in Thailand, is also planning a cutback, a company spokeswoman said, without giving details. It is also seeking early retirement for 340 of its 1,850 temporary workers at the Gateway plant, which builds the Camry, Corolla, Yaris and other cars for Thailand and markets in the region.

Toyota is the top brand in Thailand, but its sales dropped 21 percent in October compared with a year ago, worse than the market's 15 percent slide, partly because of a long-running political crisis eroding consumer confidence.

"There are signs of a slowdown not just in Thailand, but in the markets of export destinations," the Toyota spokeswoman said.

Last week, GM's unit in South Korea said it would halt production for two weeks because of sluggish demand. But despite slowing growth in China, the world's second-largest car market, GM has no plans to halt production at its vehicle manufacturing ventures there, a spokesman said.

PSA Peugeot-Citroën, Europe's biggest carmaker behind Volkswagen, announced a fresh wave of job cuts Thursday. Peugeot said it would cut 2,700 jobs across its sites in France, and it forecast that car sales would drop 17 percent in the final quarter of this year in main European markets and by at least 10 percent in 2009.

Mazda said Thursday that it was not renewing the contracts of about 70 percent of its combined temporary work force at two Thai factories, leading to a reduction of about 1,300 workers by the end of this year.

Most of the world's major automakers have plants in Thailand, which produced 1.29 million vehicles last year, of which 690,000 units were exported.

Automakers to cut Japan jobs

Isuzu and Mazda will cut at least 2,700 temporary jobs in Japan, Bloomberg News reported Thursday from Tokyo.

Isuzu will terminate 1,400 temporary and part-time workers' contracts by the end of the year and cut one shift at a truck plant in Fujisawa, Japan, starting next month, said a spokesman, Naoki Ariizumi.

Mazda will cut 500 workers at its factory in Yamaguchi Prefecture and 800 workers at its plant in Hiroshima Prefecture, said a spokesman, Toyota Tanaka.

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