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GM Thailand still strong, moving ahead with new diesel engine plant

BANGKOK, June 1 (TNA) – Even though General Motors in the United States is in economic straits and plans to file for Chapter 11 protection on Monday, its subsidiary General Motors (Thailand) Ltd. said its business in the kingdom remains solid with no plans to lay off more employees as the firm is now negotiating with banks regarding loans to be invested in a new diesel engine plant.
The company went through a restructuring earlier this year, reducing its workforce by nearly one-third by using voluntary retirement incentives, which nonetheless led to  employee protests at the time.
Stephen Carlisle, president of GM Southeast Asia Operations Ltd, including General Motors (Thailand) Ltd. and Chevrolet Sales (Thailand) Ltd., said GM in Thailand still believes there is plenty of opportunity in Thailand and that the country could develop into a hub for Asia or even for the world in certain products.
The GM chief said during a meeting with Thai Industry Minister Charnchai Chairungrueng on Monday that although his parent company had terminated some of its  employees and downsized its operations, GM Thailand was not impacted.
His remarks were made as GM bondholders in the U.S. voted Saturday in support of a restructuring plan. Under the plan, bondholders would have the right to buy an extra 15 per cent of GM’s stock at a low price.
They would also control 25 per cent of the new GM, after having supported the new company’s creation in bankruptcy court.
The Obama administration has set Monday as the deadline for General Motors to submit a viable restructuring plan or file for bankruptcy.
On a plan by GM Thailand to build a new diesel engine plant in this country, Mr. Carlisle said his company is still negotiating with banks in Thailand including the Export-Import Bank of Thailand regarding loans and the results should be known within 60-90 days.
General Motors (Thailand) announced its plans last August to invest US$445 million to build the new diesel engine plant, its first in Southeast Asia, in the eastern Thai province of Rayong, where the US automotive giant has operated an assembly plant for the past nine years.
Meanwhile, Mr. Charnchai said he was briefed on the overall situation of GM by Mr. Carlisle and that his ministry would help the firm in Thailand to receive privileges equal to local operators.
Mr. Charnchai said GM (Thailand) had not discussed the company’s plan to invest more with him, but that he had conferred regarding increasing investment under promotional privileges granted by the government’s Board of Investment.
Meanwhile, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Labour’s Protection and Social Welfare Department Arthit Issamo reaffirmed that General Motors (Thailand) Ltd. won’t be affected.
It was the Thai-based company remains strong after recent restructuring to cut its production and overhead costs, he said.
The company reduced its employees through early retirement incentives and a voluntary resignation scheme, which caused the number of employees to drop from 2,343 to 1,643, leading to a protest at the beginning of this year.
Now, the terminated employees are seeking settlement their demands such as bonus payments, Mr. Arthit said.  The situation of the parent company in the United States should make the Thai employees understand why its subsidiary in Thailand underwent the restructuring process. (TNA)

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