BY Bruce Mutsvairo
AMSTERDAM (AP) _ Mitsubishi Motor Corp.'s Dutch car-making unit
NedCar is expected to slash ``a few hundred jobs'' in a
reorganization aimed at cutting production costs, a spokeswoman said
A company statement said Mitsubishi ordered its Dutch operation
to downsize to one shift as it closes the assembly line for the
four-seat forFour model of DaimlerChrysler AG's Smart car, keeping
production only of the Mitsubishi's Colt.
Earlier Monday, workers downed tools to express concern over the
plans to discontinue production of the Smart model, and threatened
more labour sanctions to come.
``What action would you expect from the employees? We will
continue to press ahead with strikes,'' workers representative Jean
Wouters told Dutch Television.
Company spokeswoman Liz Tans said it was uncertain how many
workers would be affected by the restructuring, but local media put
the figure at about 1,000.
Tans said negotiations would continue, but ``it's clear a few
hundred people will lose their jobs.''
``Mitsubishi Motors Corp. has requested NedCar to draft a
restructuring plan for a one-shift operation, based on a current
production volume of Mitsubishi Colt, in the context of intended
smart forFour exit,'' said a NedCar statement.
Production is set to resume Tuesday while a meeting between the
company's supervisory board, union representatives and management
will be held on April 11, said Tans.
DaimlerChrysler has been wrestling with the Smart brand's
loss-making minicar unit since last year.
The German-U.S. auto manufacturer announced last week it will
terminate production of the model, which is assembled at NedCar's
unit in Born, about 190 kilometres south of Amsterdam.
The Born factory has been producing about 40,000 Smart cars a
year for DaimlerChrysler. Mutsubishi says it hopes to sell 80,000
Colts in Europe this year.
NedCar's 3,000 employees want the carmaker to produce another
vehicle to preserve jobs.
NedCar, which has cut 1,800 jobs over the past two years, was
established by Mitsubishi and the Sweden's AB Volvo in 1991.
Mitsubishi became the sole shareholder in 2001.