With their latest legal challenge dismissed, the unions for workers at PSA Peugeot Citroen’s Aulnay plant near Paris have accepted its closure and the loss of up to 8,000 jobs.
The works council reluctantly endorsed that on Monday, meaning workers now get to choose between being paid off or moving to jobs at the carmaker’s other plants.
They remain shocked and angry. One man said: “We don’t know what to do, how to do anything and we’re just lost.”
“For me, moving is out of the question. I never asked to be unemployed, I didn’t ask to lose my job and it’s PSA’s management that has forced this on us,” added another.
The company has said that to survive it must cut fixed costs and excess capacity amid a collapse in the European car market.
Sales plunged 15 percent last year, after an 8.8 percent fall the year before, dramatically reversing sales growth of 13 percent in a difficult market in 2010.
That continues with a 10.3 percent drop in the first three months of this year, though sales jumped in China.
Still the company is burning through 200 million euros a month, and cannot sustain that.
For the moment Peugeot Citroen has said it is sticking with voluntary redundancies, but warned of mandatory layoffs by the end of this year, if there were not enough volunteers.
Peugeot Citroen recently said it will seek cost-saving concessions from its unions to help meet turnaround targets.
Chief Financial Officer Jean-Baptiste de Chatillon said they will will begin talks with the unions in coming weeks. “We will need to launch negotiations on the competitiveness of the group,” Chatillon said.
The talks follow rival Renault’s deal with unions on a pay freeze and working-time cuts and may address similar measures, though further job or plant cuts “are not the subject of these discussions”, the CFO said.
The Aulnay plant is due to shut in 2014, but Peugeot said it could be closed this year ahead of schedule and production transferred to nearby Poissy if the unions continue to disrupt output there.
The company also said additional measures may be required if a rebound fails to materialise next year in the European car market.
“Operational initiatives to offset such potential deterioration are under review,” Peugeot said.
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