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Freightliner cuts 800 jobs in Canadian plant; layoffs could reach 4,000

By Paris Goodnight

Salisbury Post

Freightliner’s first round of cutbacks hit a manufacturing plant in Canada this week, costing the jobs of 800 workers.

The company sent an e-mail to affected employees Tuesday. The announcement said the company could lay off as many as 4,000 workers as the current boom in sales slows because of new truck emissions standards kicking in Jan. 1.

The company has offered no details on how the cutbacks will affect the Cleveland plant or other manufacturing facilities in the Carolinas.

But the first announced layoff will idle the aforementioned workers at an assembly plant in St. Thomas, Ontario.

Freightliner, the heavy truck division of Germany’s DaimlerChrysler AG, enjoyed banner sales as fleet operators and other buyers loaded up on 2006 model year trucks. But new diesel emission exhaust standards also have boosted the price of 2007 models, while raising some concerns about their road performance.

The Freightliner announcement said higher truck engine prices will raise the cost of a vehicle between $4,600 and $12,500.

“It is clear that all residents of North America benefit from the cleaner atmosphere that will ultimately result (from more stringent emission standards),” Freightliner said in the release, “but it is equally obvious that the costs associated with this worthy initiative are borne almost entirely by the truck manufacturing industry’s employees, suppliers, shareholders and dealers.”

Portland, Ore.-based Freightliner said a recovery in demand for heavy trucks is expected in the second half of the year.

The company’s Web site is www.freightliner.com.

Contact Paris Goodnight at 704-797-4255 or pgoodnight@ salisburypost.com.

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