WorldCom Inc. (WCOM), the No. 2 U.S. long-distance telephone company, is considering cutting 20 percent of its workforce, or about 16,000 jobs, in a bid to trim costs and turn the ailing firm around, USA Today said on Wednesday. 

Top management is still working on a final proposal for making the cuts and could present it to the board within weeks, the report said, citing executives familiar with the plan. The cuts would follow a total of 12,700 made this year and last year. 

Many of the cuts will likely come from network operations, a plan that would be in line with WorldCom's recent cuts in capital spending, the report said. 

WorldCom declined comment on the reported job cuts and cost savings plan. 

"We're certainly going to right-size the business but to speculate on details of that would be premature" a WorldCom spokesman Brad Burns told the paper. 

Investors are worried that WorldCom will buckle under $30 billion in debt as revenue for long-distance and data services continue to fall, USA Today said. 

WorldCom shares closed on Tuesday at $1.45, down 6.5 percent. Credit agencies have downgraded its debt to junk status