GM To Offer Early Retirement

General Motors Corp. plans to offer early-retirement incentives to thousands of white-collar workers in hopes of eliminating about 5,000 jobs, a company spokesman said Tuesday.

The offers are an attempt to cut the automaker's U.S. white-collar work force of about 50,000 by 10 percent.

Company spokesman Tom Wickham said the buyouts are the latest in GM's attempt to cut costs. GM employs more than 300,000 workers worldwide.

Wickham was questioned after the Detroit Free Press reported in Tuesday's editions that GM planned to announce Thursday that select groups of white-collar employees 50 and older will be given a lucrative, early-retirement package effective April 1.

``This is a continuation of the cuts we've been making since 2000. We just made a new goal of more white-collar, special early retirements in 2002,'' GM vice president Steve Harris told the newspaper.

The news surfaced in the midst of the media preview of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Company officials also said the automaker would delay handing out annual merit raises to employees until late 2002. GM traditionally gives out pay raises at midyear.

Ford Motor Co. is expected to announce a major cost-cutting campaign on Friday that analysts say could mean the elimination of up to 20,000 jobs.

DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group is in the middle of restructuring, with plant closings and 26,000 job cuts announced in February.