General Motors and Chrysler have today offered a new round of hourly worker buyouts and retirement incentives to help themselves cope with the industry downturn and meet federal labour-saving requirements for the manufacturer's rescue package.
While no comment could be secured from the GM camp, Chrysler confirmed the planned buyouts in a statement which said "Given the difficult economic and market conditions in the US, Chrysler LLC determined in December 2008 that it would offer another phase of special programs."
Chrysler and GM want to move veteran workers off its payrolls to eventually bring on new staff who will earn half the $28-an-hour wage of current veteran workers and half their benefits.
The manufacturers must also bring labour costs in line with Japanese transplant automakers by February 17th, the date set by when the two firms are required to justify federal rescue loans of $4 billion and $13.4 bilion USD (for Chrysler and GM respectively).
Chrysler's incentives are more generous than those offered by GM. Retirement-eligible Chrysler workers who leave will receive a $50,000 cash incentive plus a voucher of $25,000 for a new Chrysler vehicle, according to the notice. Last year the incentive was $70,000.
GM hourly workers who retire are eligible for $20,000 in cash and a $25,000 car voucher, according to a union source. About 18,000 GM hourly workers took larger buyout incentives in 2008 to leave the company.
Chrysler workers who take a buyout and leave with no retiree health care benefits get $75,000 and a $25,000 car voucher, the union source said. The incentive was $100,000 last year. GM buyouts offer $20,000 and a $25,000 car voucher.