General Motors plans to reduce its number of contract workers this week as part of previously announced white collar workforce cutbacks, the Detroit News reported.

The newspaper, citing sources, said that the cuts have been taking place over the last several weeks and will number 300 to 500 by the time the next round of 'pink slip' job termination notices are handed out.

The Detroit News noted that, in January, GM president and CEO Rick Wagoner said the car maker planned to reduce its white collar work force by 3% to 7% this year, mainly through attrition and retirements. At the end of 2002, GM had 45,000 salaried and 8,100 contract workers in North America, the paper added.

GM spokesman Rob Minton would not confirm to the Detroit News the number of contract workers who will be let go, saying "each function of the company has its own plan" based on internal targets. But he said the layoffs do not represent any sort of sweeping corporate-wide job reduction, the paper added.

The timing of the cuts is tied to the start of the year's second quarter and "pressures of getting cost out of the system," Minton said, according to the Detroit News.

The newspaper said contract workers are hired through third-party companies and perform engineering, design and computer-related functions for vehicle makers.