Union says France should have stopped Peugeot cuts

PARIS Thu Jul 12, 2012 6:48am EDT

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PARIS (Reuters) - The head of France's hardline CGT union said it will not stand idly by and accept Peugeot's plan to cut 8,000 jobs and slammed the new Socialist government for failing to take emergency steps to prevent such layoffs.

The auto maker announced the closure of its Aulnay assembly plant near Paris on Thursday and a wave of other job cuts as it battles mounting losses at its core automotive division, setting it on a collision course with a government which has pledged to tackle unemployment running at a 12-year high.

Thibault said the government must act to prevent this latest action in a wave of recent domestic job cuts.

"We are not going to take for granted the brutal suppression of tens of thousands of jobs in our country," CGT Secretary General Bernard Thibault told France Inter radio.

"This illustrates the need to take urgent steps in the face of these restructurings, these firing plans."

He said that Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault should have used a two-day social conference with unions and employers at the start of the week to head off the plan.

The CGT, France's second largest union in terms of members, is traditionally close to the Communist party and regarded as more strident than the larger CFDT, which has closer links to the Socialists.

Ayrault said on Tuesday the government would study measures to improve job security and lower the onerous social charges on labor - which employers say are making France increasingly uncompetitive - but announced no specific measures.

The head of the MEDEF employers chamber, Laurence Parisot, warned on Sunday that flagging orders and weak balance sheets at small- and medium-sized French companies could lead to a wave of bankruptcies.

Social Affairs Minister Marisol Touraine said Peugeot's decision was unacceptable after the company had accepted some 4 billion euros in state aid in recent years.

(Reporting By Chine Labbe; editing by Daniel Flynn and Mike Nesbit)

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