Ford U.S. salaried workers to get merit raises

DETROIT Tue Dec 15, 2009 1:29pm EST

An employee works on the new 2009 Ford F-150 on the assembly line at Ford's Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri October 2, 2008. REUTERS/Sam VarnHagen/Ford Motor Co/Handout

An employee works on the new 2009 Ford F-150 on the assembly line at Ford's Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri October 2, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Sam VarnHagen/Ford Motor Co/Handout

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DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co, which posted a nearly $1 billion third-quarter profit that surprised Wall Street analysts, will reinstate merit pay increases for U.S. salaried workers in 2010, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Ford, whose shares reached a 2-1/2 year high on Tuesday, had suspended merit pay raises and other benefits to U.S. salaried workers to conserve cash for its turnaround plan and cope with the U.S. auto industry sales downturn.

The only large U.S. automaker that did not reorganize in 2009 through a U.S. government-funded bankruptcy, Ford has said it expects to be "solidly profitable" for the full year 2011.

Ford posted losses totaling about $30 billion from 2006 through 2008. The automaker mortgaged nearly all of its remaining assets in late 2006 to finance its turnaround plan.

U.S. salaried workers, including executives, are in line to receive merit increases of various levels on April 1, based on individual performance in 2009, spokeswoman Marcey Evans said.

Ford has reinstated a company 401(K) matching program effective January 1 that had been suspended at the start of 2009, Evans said. A tuition assistance program for salaried workers suspended in mid 2008 will be reinstated March 1, she said.

Ford President of the Americas, Mark Fields, informed employees of the reinstated benefits in an e-mail on Thursday, Evans said. Ford had 21,300 salaried workers in North America at the end of September and does not break out employment by country.

The merit pay, retirement account matching and tuition assistance were first reported by the Detroit Free Press.

Ford shares were up 2.64 percent at $9.32 Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares have risen more than nine-fold since falling to as low as $1.02 in November 2008.

(Reporting by David Bailey, editing by Gunna Dickson)

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