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Union Hopes to Ease Worker Impact from DaimlerChrysler Production Decision

Mon, 03/27/2006 - 3:53am
Len Vermillion

Follwing a decision by DaimlerChrysler AG to stop producing the Smart ForFour model, union representatives told the Associated Press Monday they will meet this week the company's management to try to ease the blow to workers who will be affected by decision.

On Saturday, DaimlerChrysler annouced plans to end production of the Smart unit's four-seat model. in order to concentrate on its more popular two-seat ForTwo. "Thus, the profitability of Smart will be confirmed, with positive results expected from 2007 onward," the company statement said.

The move will result in the loss of 300 jobs at the Smart plant in Boeblingen, near Stuttgart, and cost the company "in the magnitude of approximately 1 billion euros" ($1.2 billion), DaimlerChrysler said.

"If there's something concrete on the table, then we'll sit down together and attempt to come up with a social plan worthy of DaimlerChrysler," Pitt Moos, chairman of the works council at Smart headquarterstold The Associated Press.

DaimlerChrysler had hired the investment firm Goldman Sachs to examine the possibility of selling Smart, which hasn't made a profit since its launch in 1998, but hasn't said whether it found any bidders.

According to its latest figures, sales of Smart-branded cars fell to 124,300 in 2005 from 152,100 the previous year. Smart already ended production of its two-seat Smart Roadster last year.

The move still has to be negotiated with Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and other partners.

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