* Carmaker paring back workforce after weak first half
* Union says 186 workers accepted prior offer
SAO PAULO, June 22 General Motors Co
began a voluntary buyout program at a second factory in Brazil
on Friday, as automakers scale back production to draw down
inventories that are near a four-year high.
The automaker said it was offering a buyout to workers at
its Sao Caetano do Sul plant and extending an earlier buyout
offer at its Sao Jose dos Campos factory. The prior offer was
accepted by 186 workers in the first half of June, a
metalworkers union said, adding that GM has cut a total of
nearly 2,000 jobs from the two factories over the past year.
Carmakers in Brazil have slowed production as domestic
dealerships work to sell off inventories near their highest
levels since November 2008. The car market is slipping as
Brazilians strain under record household debts and banks nervous
about defaults reject more auto loans.
A senior Ford Motor Co executive told Reuters in an
interview last week that the company expects Brazil's auto
market to set a new sales record by the end of the year despite
a sluggish start. Carmakers hope tax breaks and record-low
interest rates will jumpstart stagnant business at dealerships.
Still, analysts are second-guessing the industry's estimate
of 4 percent to 5 percent growth for 2012. Sales through May
fell 5 percent from a year ago, raising concerns that the
world's fifth largest auto market could shrink for the first
time in nearly a decade.