Peugeot jobs cuts 'unacceptable'
'ALLO, 'ALLO: French President Francois Hollande, followed by companion Valerie Trierweiler, in the Elysee Palace garden on Bastille Day, July 14 2012. He's denounced Peugeot plans to axe 8000 jobs. Image: AFP
PARIS, France – French president Francois Hollande has denounced a plan by Peugeot-Citroen to cut 8000 jobs as unacceptable “and must be renegotiated”.
The struggling automaker had announced the cutbacks, along with its intention to close a major factory north of Paris. Employees staged a protest the same day and unions are calling for more.
'WE HAVE A PLAN'
In his Bastille Day interview on French TV, Hollande said the plan was a shock for workers, their families and their communities. He told two interviewers from the major television networks TF1 and France-2: “The plan is not acceptable and therefore it will not be accepted."
Hollande, who took office in May, said the government wants an expert to assess Peugeot's finances and to make recommendations for the company. He added that the government would soon unveil a plan for the car industry, including incentives to buy French cars.
Hollande campaigned for the presidency on a promise to "re-industrialise" France, reinvigorate its manufacturing sector and prevent jobs from going to Asia. Sorting out France's car industry may be his first big test.
Peugeot-Citroen, like its peers, is struggling, warning that it faces a first-half loss equivalent to $850-million in 2012 with Europe’s auto market stagnant. It is suffering, particularly, amid a slump in sales in the recession-hit south of Europe, and saw sales plunge by 20% in Europe in the first quarter of 2012.
Hollande, however, wouldn't let the wider European economy take all of the blame for Peugeot's troubles. He said the company shared responsibility and accused its management of holding back the cost-cutting plan until after he took office, saying that the delay amounted to a lie.
During the campaign French media reported that advisers for then-president Nicolas Sarkozy, who ran against Hollande, were pressing company executives to avoid announcing big lay-offs.