NEW YORK (CNNfn) - DaimlerChrysler AG may lay off workers at its beleaguered U.S. Chrysler unit as part of the German-American automaker's effort to stem its mounting losses.|
Manfred Gentz, DaimlerChrysler's chief financial officer, said job cuts at Chrysler "could become an issue," and the company will likely make a statement regarding the matter within the next few days, according to Reuters news service.
That news came just hours after the German edition of the Financial Times newspaper reported that DaimlerChrysler executives have begun talks with the United Auto Workers union about changing the terms of the Detroit-based unit's employees.
Gentz also said DaimlerChrysler plans to temporarily down more plants in the U.S. On Wednesday, DaimlerChrysler announced that it will idle three of its U.S. vehicle assembly plants to reduce growing inventories.
DaimlerChrysler has been taking a number of steps to improve its financial performance since the company last month reported a third-quarter operating profit that had plunged 80 percent.
Much of that loss was attributed to its core U.S. operation, which faced intense competition from rivals such as General Motors and Ford. Chrysler's reported loss for the quarter amounted to $492 million.
Earlier this month, the company parachuted in a new management team, naming Dieter Zetsche, the former head of DaimlerChrysler's truck division, president and chief executive and ousting most of the Chrysler unit's remaining high-level executives.
The company already has warned that it will fail to meet its previously-stated profit target for 2000 and will report a loss for the fourth quarter. But the situation may be even worse than expected.
Citing sources within the Chrysler unit, Handelsblatt, a financial newspaper in Germany, reported Wednesday that Chrysler's loss in 2001 could amount to as much as $2 billion.
DaimlerChrysler executives in Germany did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment Thursday.