General Motors fires 13 percent of Venezuelan workforce

The Venezuelan unit of General Motors is firing 13 percent of its workforce as a shortage of dollars idle assembly lines across the oil-rich South American country.

Autoworker union representatives said Tuesday that an arbitration panel had given GM permission to lay off 446 employees at its factory in the coastal city of Valencia. GM did not comment.

The industry's entire 10,000-strong workforce is at risk as carmakers struggle to obtain from the government hard currency needed to import parts. Ford in January became the latest company to write off its investment, taking an $800 million charge on the country's currency woes.

Car production last year fell 72 percent to under 20,000 units compared with eight times that amount in 2007.

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