“We announced this morning we would seek to make 750 redundancies in our production facility in Trollhättan,” Saab spokesman Joe Oliver told AFP.
“This is a necessary action to increase liquidity and the top priority for Saab at the moment is to reorganize efficiently in order to attract new investors,” he said.
“It will likely be 650 blue-collar and 100 white-collar” workers who will lose their jobs, Oliver added.
Last month, Saab’s beleaguered US owner basically abandoned the Swedish unit, saying its ownership obligations would lapse at the end of this year.
“It’s really too bad, but unfortunately, it’s necessary. We need to adjust the number of employees to the decrease in demand for cars,” Saab spokesperson Gunilla Gustavs told the TT news agency.
Staff were informed of the redundancy notices on Thursday morning, according to Gustavs.
Saab had so far managed to endure the current auto sector crisis without cutting any jobs.
But the evening shift was cut in December, which resulted in 350 redundant positions.
Since then sales have continued their steep decline, leading to Thursday’s layoff announcement.
Local union chair Anette Hellgren lays part of the blame for the layoffs with the European Investment Bank (EIB).
“If we had gotten support from there, we would have gotten by without the redundancy notices,” she told TT.
“Congratulations, Volvo, but they would have managed without the loan guarantees.”
Hellgren stressed, however, that the job cuts were not the first steps in an eventual shuttering of Saab, explaining that the company is treading carefully as it goes through a court-ordered restructuring.
The restructuring began after GM warned it could be pushed into immediate bankruptcy unless it received help from the Swedish government, which in turn flatly refused to step in and rescue Saab.
According to Saab and the Swedish government, several potential buyers have shown interest in the automaker which was once renowned for its cutting-edge technology and futuristic designs but which in recent years has suffered from an aging product line and plunging sales.
Out of Saab’s around 4,100 employees in Sweden, 3,700 work at its hub in the southwestern town of Trollhättan.
A GM factory in Mexico also makes Saab cars but the jobs there are not dependent on the Swedish unit.
Including suppliers, some 15,000 jobs in Sweden are believed to be at risk if the unit disappears.