PARIS Jan 16 Car maker Renault's plan
to cut 7,500 jobs in France to boost the competitiveness of its
plants has had a better reception from the government than a
similar move by rival PSA Peugeot Citroen six months
Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg said on Wednesday
Renault's move to adapt production amid a shrinking market was
acceptable because it did not include layoffs or plant closures.
Renault said on Tuesday it was aiming to cut 7,500 jobs on
its home patch by 2016 to boost competitiveness as the slump in
its domestic and other European markets shows no sign of easing.
The company, 15 percent-owned by the government, hopes about
three-quarters of the cuts will be achieved through normal staff
turnover, a Renault spokeswoman said on Tuesday following the
latest in a series of meetings with unions.
"It's better than having to deal with layoffs and drastic
plant closures that hit company morale," Montebourg said.
Last year French President Francois Hollande and Montebourg
sharply criticised PSA's plant to cut 8,000 jobs in France and
close a plant in Aulnay-sous-Bois, near Paris, in 2014.
Although PSA had said it did not plan to resort to layoffs,
its restructuring drive created shockwaves among government and
public opinion because it was announced right after the
Renault employs 54,000 people in France, while PSA has
around 80,000 staff.
"Renault has delocalised more among suppliers and has
created more production sites outside France. This is why PSA
has to adapt more vigorously," said a former industry executive
who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Automakers across Europe are having to cut costs and
capacity to try to turn a profit while the euro zone debt crisis
and resulting government austerity measures sap consumer demand.
Car sales in France, Spain and Italy fell to their lowest levels
in years in 2012.
Renault is pushing workers to accept a new nationwide deal
on pay and conditions to cut costs and align productivity with
cheaper European sites such as its Palencia plant in Spain and
alliance partner Nissan's Sunderland factory in England.
(Reporting by Gilles Guillaume and Julien Ponthus; Writing by
Elena Berton; Editing by Mark Potter)