France’s biggest carmaker Peugeot Citroen has stunned the country by announcing 8,000 job cuts and the closure of an assembly plant near Paris.
Unions have described the news as a “declaration of war” and an “earthquake”. But bosses say the restructuring plan is the only way to safeguard the firm’s future as it struggles with mounting losses.
“The group won’t leave anyone without a precise solution to their employment problem,” Chief Executive Philippe Varin told a news conference.
“A situation where a group is losing 200 million euros a month is a serious situation, and dithering is absolutely not an option if we want to prevent it becoming critical one day.”
Workers at the doomed Aulnay plant are determined to fight the planned closure in 2014, according to the unions.
“War has been declared. And I can guarantee that, in the Aulnay plant in any case, several hundred of us have made our minds up; we are determined to defend our jobs,” said CGT union representative Jean-Pierre Mercier.
Half of Aulnay’s 3,000 staff are set to be offered jobs at another Peugeot site in the Paris region. Elsewhere, 1,400 jobs will go at its plant in Rennes in western France and a further 3,600 non-assembly posts will be shed across the company.