General Motors now plans to lay off an extra 5,500 production workers following its announcement of massive third quarter losses last week.

As it announced a US$2.5bn net loss for the quarter, GM said it would reduce production at a number of assembly operations, as well as supporting staff at stamping and powertrain facilities.

“We expect this reduction will result in the idling of 5,500 hourly employees,” GM said in a subsequent SEC filing.

“As a result of these capacity actions, we anticipate recording a charge of at least $300m in automotive costs of sales in the three months ending 31 December, 2008.”

US reports said the 5,500 total represented an additional 1,900 factory workers on top of 3,600 announced on Friday and that they would be gone in the first quarter of 2009. Though the layoffs would be indefinite, no more plants were closing. GM spokesman declined to give plant specifics.

GM was also reported to have told the state of Michigan it would lay off 650 factory workers and another 52 salaried employees at its Orion Township assembly plant in the state from 23 January though these layoffs were part of the 3,600 announced last Friday.

Orion makes the Chevrolet Malibu and Pontiac G6 sedans which a spokesman said were selling well but had nonetheless fallen victim to the overall US market decline. The Malibu is also built in Kansas.

GM also said in its filing that additional salaried employment savings would be achieved through incremental workforce reductions in US and Canada, including “involuntary separation initiatives”.

And, in an announcement that affects 5,500 workers at Vauxhall here in the UK, and tens of thousands of Opel employees on the continent, it added: “We also expect to realise salaried employment savings in western Europe in 2009 through a wage/salary freeze and other cost reduction initiatives.”

Planned North America structural cost reductions of an additional $1.5bn in 2009 will include recently announced acceleration of previously planned capacity reductions and other plant operating plan changes, additional efficiencies in engineering resources aligned with further product plan changes, continued marketing spending reductions aligned with expected automotive industry conditions and intensified focus on discretionary spending reductions.

In the absence of federal funding support, 2009 capital spending will be reduced from the revised target of $7.2bn announced on 15 July to $4.8bn.

This will be achieved primarily through deferrals of some new model programmes such as the Cadillac CTS coupe and the next generation Chevrolet Aveo for global markets and related capacity reduction projects.

Spending related to the Chevy Volt electric car will continue, GM said.

GM also expressed doubt at former parts operation Delphi emerging from bankruptcy any time soon.

“Given the current credit markets and the challenges facing the automotive industry, there can be no assurance that Delphi will be successful in obtaining $3.8bn in exit financing to emerge from bankruptcy,” GM said in its filing.