AUTOSHOW-UPDATE 1-GM wants "massive" cut in Europe labour costs


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PARIS, Sept 23 (Reuters) - General Motors Corp. said on Thursday that it needs a "massive reduction" in its European labour costs to keep its factories in the region competitive with assembly plants elsewhere around the globe.

"What I want to see is a massive reduction in the wage bill," Carl-Peter Forster, president of GM's European operations, told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the Paris auto show.

"It has to be a massive reduction," he added, saying the world's largest automaker considered a 30-percent cut in its European labour costs a reasonable target to work towards by the end of the decade.

GM posted its last annual profit in Europe in 1999 and its operations in the region have been under an almost constant state of restructuring for years.

"The time is over when higher prices justified higher wages," Forster said. He was referring to what he described as excessively high wages for GM's European assembly plant workers, especially in Germany.

Forster gave no details about GM's wage talks in Germany, or its European work force overall, but he said the company may be ultimately be forced to cut jobs in the region.



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