Reuters is reporting Ford Motor Co. has told the UAW that it has about 4,000 more hourly workers than it needs because of slumping sales, said a person familiar with the discussion. Ford, which posted a second-quarter net loss of US$8.7 billion, has been offering buyouts to hourly workers at numerous plants across the United States as it cuts capacity to meet demand. After thousands of workers had accepted earlier buyout offers in recent years, Ford has found fewer employees willing to take them in this round, given the weakness of the economy and a slumping housing market. About 4,200 Ford workers accepted buyouts that had been offered to all UAW-represented employees in the first quarter. Ford has never announced a buyout target for its U.S. hourly work force. The No. 2 U.S. automaker behind General Motors ended the second quarter with 60,600 hourly workers in North America, including those at former Visteon Corp. plants that it agreed to buy back in 2005. It has cut about 40,000 hourly workers from its payroll since the end of 2005. Ford conveyed its projection of a surplus of about 4,000 workers to UAW leaders in confidential meetings this week, said the source, who was not authorized to discuss the talks. Both Ford and the UAW declined to comment. Ford plans to convert some truck plants in North America to car production and bring over European-designed cars to meet a shift in demand toward more fuel-efficient vehicles. At the same time, the company is grappling with the worst U.S. auto sales environment in 15 years as a difficult economy, tight credit markets and high gasoline prices have crimped demand across the sector. U.S. auto sales were down about 11 per cent industrywide for the first eight months of 2008. Ford CEO Alan Mulally told reporters earlier this week that there were signs that the rest of the world was starting to slow down as well.<br> Declining demand has forced Ford to cut 500 jobs at a crossover plant in Ontario and a full shift of production at a Chicago factory where it builds the Taurus sedan and other vehicles. The company has about 2,175 hourly workers in Chicago, and the cuts would hit 600 part-time workers first. Ford also has told workers it was reducing or eliminating overtime at most plant locations, meaning lower earnings for most hourly employees. The company has set up a Web site — www.yourjobconnection.org — to encourage workers to consider buyouts or retirement. It is also sponsoring job fairs in Detroit and elsewhere to help connect its workers with potential employers.