General Motors (GM) has confirmed that 35,000 workers employed by the troubled car manufacturer have agreed to take voluntary redundancy or early retirement.
The world's largest vehicle maker said that the decision by its workers meant that GM was now two years ahead of schedule regarding plans to cut its workforce, following losses of $10.6 billion incurred by the company last year.
A sharp drop in US sales, amid tough competition and falling demand for sports utility vehicles, had led GM to announce plans to close nine of its North American factories and three parts depots by 2008.
Following yesterday's announcement concerning voluntary job losses, GM raised its annual target for cost savings from $7 billion to at least $8 billion by the end of 2006.
GM workers had been given until last Friday to accept severance packages worth up to $140,000.
The company's chief executive Rick Wagoner told a news conference in Detroit that 4,600 GM employees had opted to take voluntary redundancy, while around 30,400 had decided to choose early retirement.
Stressing that the uptake of the severance packages had been higher than GM's management had expected, Mr Wagoner said: "I think it's fair to say we are very rapidly on the road back."
"Over the past several months, we have accomplished a great deal in our strategy to reshape GM into a company that is more nimble, more global and built for long-term success," he added.
Investors reacted positively to news that GM workers had accepted the car manufacturer's cost -cutting plans, with shares up 2.8 per cent at yesterday's close.