Europe’s second biggest car maker has posted losses of 819 million euros for the first half of the year – almost four times as much as experts had forecast.
The PSA Peugeot Citroen group also announced new cost-cutting measures aimed at saving 1.5 billion euros by 2015.
Peugeot Citroen chairman, Philippe Varin, outlined his plans to turn the situation around at a press conference at the group’s headquarters in Paris. But it was not only journalists who showed up.
Some 2,000 workers facing redundancy from the group’s Aulnay-sous-Bois plant demonstrated outside the building. In all, 8,000 jobs are to be axed although the group has pledged to try to re-employ staff elsewhere.
Peugeot Citroen currently has debts estimated at 2.4 billion euros.
But union member Jean-Pierre Mercier argued: “Even if there is a deficit employees shouldn’t be picking up the bill. They (the group) paid out 2.7 billion euros in shareholder dividends and they splashed out three billion more buying back shares.”
The unions have now won the right to have the group’s accounts examined by an independent firm of auditors to check whether the redundancies are necessary. The move is likely to delay any lay-offs by several months at least.
Giovanni Magi, euronews’s Paris correspondent, commented: “At the same time as the French government commits to helping the automobile industry, Peugeot Citroen says that after this major restructuring a page will be turned and the future will be brighter. But unions say the price paid for that restructuring is too high.”