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French PM calls for consultation as PSA Peugeot-Citroën announces 8,000 job losses

media PSA Peugeot Citroën workers demonstrate outside the company's HQ Reuters/Benoit Tessier

French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroën has announced its intention to axe 8,000 jobs in France, with a plant at Aulnay near Paris to close and another at Rennes badly hit. Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called on the company to consult unions on a plan to maintain work on all its sites "without delay."

Ayrault said the “unprecedented” job losses were a “shock”, unions described the plan as an “earthquake” but the company’s share price soared.

PSA Peugeot Citroën’s shares leapt 3.46 per cent to 7.39 euros when the Paris stock market opened Thursday while the rest of the market went down 0.57 per cent, falling 0.07 per cent subsequently.

After its profits halved last year and turned into a loss for the first half of 2012, the company has announced that thousands of jobs will be axed in France:

  • The factory at Aulnay-sous-Bois (3,000 jobs) is to close;
  • The plant at Rennes in Brittany is to lose 1,400 out of 5,600 jobs;
  • All sites in France will see a total of 3,600 non-production jobs cut, 1,400 of them in research and development.

Unions had predicted job losses but the announcement was twice the figure they expected. 

The Socialist mayor of Aulnay, Gérard Ségura, accused the company of wanting to “speculate” on the land on which the factory stands, warning that his town’s social services would not be able to cope with hundreds of families losing their main source of income.

Parliamentary elections 2012

A further 9,000 jobs will be lost in sub-contractors and suppliers, he claimed.

The decision is an “earthquake”, commented Bernard Thibault, the leader of the CGT trade union. Last year his union published a confidential note, described by the company as a “working document” predicting the closure.

Jean-François Copé, of former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-wing UMP, called on the government to increase French businesses’ competitiveness, while far-right leader Marine Le Pen called for a national support programme for the car industry.

The decline of car production in France
Anthony Terrade/RFI


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