Unions reach job-saving deal at French courier firm

PARIS Thu Jan 30, 2014 5:10am EST

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PARIS Jan 30 (Reuters) - Unions at France's second-biggest courier business have agreed a deal that saves 2,150 jobs but offers little solace to French President Francois Hollande's efforts to reduce unemployment.

Workers at Mory-Ducros had been locked in dispute with majority shareholder Arcole Industries for weeks, occupying several company sites after the courier business filed for bankruptcy in November and launched a restructuring programme that put 5,200 jobs in jeopardy.

The news delivered a blow to President Hollande's efforts to start bringing down unemployment, stuck near 11 percent, by the end of 2013. His promise was finally buried this week by jobless data showing a rise in claims.

The deal with unlisted industrial holding group Arcole protects 2,150 jobs and improves severance terms for the more than 3,000 employees who still face redundancy.

In a statement, six unions said they had agreed to lift their blockade and signed off on the new deal, in which Arcole promises to raise its total payout for redundancies to 30 million euros ($40.93 million) from 21 million euros.

Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg, who participated in all-night talks to defuse the Mory-Ducros dispute, said that laid-off workers would be offered several options, including training and jobs with a public transport firm.

Hollande, facing further job losses, shifted economic gears in January to embrace a supply-side approach, offering companies a large reduction in labour costs to help them to regain a competitive edge and start hiring. ($1 = 0.7329 euros) (Reporting By Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by David Goodman)

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