Ford’s German subsidiary on Friday said it is looking to cut 1,200 jobs in Cologne (Koln) by the end of the year.

Ford spokesman Erik Walner told the Associated Press (AP) the move would see the number of workers at the Cologne plant trimmed from 19,000 to 18,000 by the end of the year. The remaining cuts would come at other Ford facilities around the country.

Nearly all of the cuts are expected to come from voluntary layoffs, with affected workers receiving severance pay and employment training and placement services.

Last month, Ford reported a third-quarter loss of US$284 million, the news agency noted.

The Associated Press added that Germany suffers from high unemployment, with more than 4.5 million out of work. Earlier this week, Deutsche Telekom said it would cut 32,000 jobs over three years.

Reuters had earlier noted that several European car makers are currently cutting staff to sharpen their competitive edge amid sluggish sales, a strong euro and high raw material prices.

Its report said Ford’s group finance chief Don Leclair told a conference call after third-quarter results that Ford had taken a number of personnel steps that, combined with natural attrition, would chop headcount this year by more than 10,000 people compared with the end of 2004.

Reuters added that Ford Europe employs around 68,000 staff – including some joint ventures but excluding its Premier Automotive Group of luxury brands.

It noted that Ford had said, as it announced third-quarter results, that it planned more job cuts in North America, Europe and at PAG.