Wires

UPDATE 1-GM, Ford to have white-collar employees work remotely starting Monday

Monday@ (Adds GM and CEO comments, details)

DETROIT, March 13 (Reuters) - U.S. automakers General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co said on Friday they will have most of their white-collar workforce working remotely as of Monday to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra told employees on Friday the No. 1 automaker is asking all employees and contract workers to work remotely, noting the company has faced crises before.

"For many of us, its our first experience of this type. But disruption and trying circumstances are not new to us," she said in an email.

Barra said the remote-work policy applied globally apart from China, which has existing protocols in place. Our IT tools and systems have been extensively stress-tested; its vital that we leverage them to continue delivering, she said.

Ford has seen "limited" impact to its global operations due to the epidemic, with some employees testing positive for the virus in China and Germany but none so far in the United States, spokesman Mark Truby said on a call with reporters.

The No. 2 U.S. automaker has not lost any vehicle production outside of China and it is taking steps to keep its plants operating, he said. However, some parts of the U.S. market have seen customer traffic at dealers hurt by the outbreak, he added.

On Thursday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA) said an employee at its transmission plant in Kokomo, Indiana, had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, but he was being treated and the plant was still operating while anyone exposed to that worker was quarantined. (Reporting by Ben Klayman; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrea Ricci)