Peugeot and Renault push on with restructuring moves

Tue Feb 5, 2013 11:40am EST
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By Gilles Guillaume and Laurence Frost

PARIS (Reuters) - PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUP.PA: Quote) won staff agreement on Tuesday for an early wind-down of its doomed Aulnay plant, as rival French carmaker Renault (RENA.PA: Quote) pressed unions to sign a new national labor deal.

The moves by both French automakers, designed to address a crisis of overcapacity and falling sales, have divided unions and sparked protests and stoppages at sites around the country.

Peugeot, which has announced 8,000 job cuts and the planned closure of the Aulnay plant on the northern outskirts of Paris in 2014, presented plans to begin moving half of the factory's 3,000 workforce to another plant near the capital within days or weeks - more than a year ahead of schedule.

The company said the early transfers were requested by several unions following reported incidents of intimidation and violence against workers defying the leftwing CGT's strike call.

"We are ready to carry them (the transfers) out as quickly as possible for everyone's benefit," Peugeot spokesman Jean-Baptiste Thomas said.

"Aulnay workers are under a lot of pressure," Thomas said. "It's hard to put up with the kind of threats and assaults they are suffering on a daily basis."

Peugeot, badly hit by Europe's auto sales slump, is struggling to cut costs and lift sales in an effort to return to profit in 2015. Renault is also wrestling with domestic overcapacity as sales of its French-built models plunge in a stricken European market.

The plans for an early departure of Aulnay workers were backed by the center-left CFTC, CGC and SIA unions at Tuesday's works council and may be adopted on February 15.   Continued...

The Peugeot logo is seen at a dealership of French car maker PSA Peugeot-Citroen, Europe's No. 2 automaker by volume, in Selestat, eastern France, September 7, 2012. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler