PARIS Jan 10 France's industry minister pressed
struggling telecoms company Alcatel-Lucent on Friday
to cut fewer jobs as part of a restructuring aimed at stemming
years of losses.
The Franco-American group ran into opposition from President
Francois Hollande's Socialist government when it said in October
it would lay off 10,000 workers worldwide, including 900 in
As unions and management negotiate layoff terms for French
employees, Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg appealed to
Alcatel CEO Michel Combes to make a larger effort to preserve
jobs and facilities in France.
Montebourg "forcefully restated the government's demand to
keep as many of Alcatel-Lucent's jobs as possible in France, as
well as a top-notch industrial base", the minister said in a
Under labour rules revised in May, Alcatel-Lucent must reach
agreement on the terms of its restructuring plan with unions in
France before the staff reduction can go ahead. Unions in the
talks have said they are unlikely to block the process.
Montebourg asked the company - whose restructuring is the
sixth since it was formed in a 2006 merger between Alcatel and
Lucent - to show how they would reduce job cuts, and Combes said
options were being discussed in the talks, according to the
statement. Alcatel-Lucent declined to comment on the meeting.
With unemployment near a record 11 percent, Hollande is
fighting to preserve jobs in Europe's number two economy and
save face by fulfilling a pledge to reverse the trend of rising
job losses by end-2013.
In addition to a subsidised jobs programme that has helped
to reduce youth unemployment, Hollande said in his New Year
address that he would take further steps to reduce labour costs
that are seen as a brake on hiring, without specifying how.
Jobless claims rose in November following an unexpected fall
the previous month, casting doubt on a possible year-end drop.
Data for December will be published on Jan. 27.
Combes has insisted that Alcatel-Lucent has no choice but to
reduce headcount and refocus on its core telecoms equipment
operations, saying it is a last chance.
Montebourg has toned down attacks on corporate figures since
he lost a public battle with ArcelorMittal chief
executive Lakshmi Mittal over plans to shut down blast furnaces
in eastern France. But he remains an outspoken advocate of state
intervention in corporate affairs.
(Reporting By Nicholas Vinocur and Gwenaelle Barzic; Editing by