* Auto workers stage protests at several sites
* Peugeot cuts suspended temporarily
* Renault CEO Ghosn under pressure on pay
(Adds protests at Le Mans, Douai and Maubeuge plants)
By Gilles Guillaume and Laurence Frost
PARIS, Jan 29 Labour tensions at France's
carmakers took a turn for the worse on Tuesday as Renault
workers protested over planned cuts and PSA Peugeot
Citroen's restructuring plan hit a legal setback.
While Renault staff demonstrated at the company's Flins
plant west of Paris and Peugeot workers marched on company
headquarters, the carmakers pursued union talks on plans to
improve productivity and eliminate close to 8,000 jobs each.
"As things stand now, the conditions are unacceptable," CFDT
union chief Laurent Berger said of Renault's proposals for a new
nationwide labour deal.
Peugeot, the carmaker worst hit by Europe's deep auto sales
slump, is struggling to shed costs and lift sales in its effort
to return to profit in 2015. Renault, cushioned by earnings from
its Dacia low-cost cars and a 43.4 percent stake in Japan's
Nissan, is also grappling with industrial overcapacity
as sales of French-built models plunge.
The CFDT, France's biggest private-sector union, also
increased pressure on Renault boss Carlos Ghosn by echoing calls
from within President Francois Hollande's socialist government
for a cut to the chief executive's salary.
"Workers can't be asked to make sacrifices unless the CEO is
asked to make sacrifices," Berger said on BFM Television.
The government, Renault's biggest shareholder with a 15
percent stake, attempted to trim Ghosn's pay at a board meeting
in December, Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said in a Monday
radio interview, without giving details.
Ghosn earned 2.79 million euros ($3.76 million) from Renault
in 2011 and 9.92 million from Nissan in its corresponding
financial year, making him one of the highest-paid CEOs in
France or Japan.
About 500 workers staged a protest in front of Renault's
Flins plant, where production of the Clio has dwindled as more
of the sub-compact vehicles are assembled in Turkey.
A similar number of Renault staff demonstrated at a chassis
facility in Le Mans, while hundreds more downed tools at plants
in Maubeuge and Douai, northern France.
Renault is cutting 7,500 jobs over three years without
compulsory redundancies and is demanding union concessions on
pay, flexibility and working hours in return for guarantees to
keep French plants open.
Unions, meanwhile, are demanding firm commitments on
production volumes in France as part of any deal.
Peugeot's plan to close a plant and eliminate 8,000
positions across France faces possible delays after the Paris
Appeals Court ordered a temporary halt to the restructuring to
allow additional consultations with workers.
At the Peugeot Aulnay plant, earmarked for closure in 2014,
production of C3 sub-compacts continued at a trickle amid
Workers from the plant, which reopened on Monday after a
strike and 10-day closure, were called upon by the CGT union to
march on Peugeot's head office in Paris.
Negotiations on the cuts continued on Tuesday, but final
implementation must now wait until Peugeot also completes formal
talks ordered by the court at two sites belonging to parts
The CGT union argued successfully in court that workers at
two Faurecia sites would be affected by Peugeot's cuts and
should have been included in consultations.
"It's a restructuring that has an impact on Faurecia's
activities," CGT lawyer Fiodor Rilov said. "As a result,
workers' representatives have to be informed and consulted."
Peugeot shares closed 1.7 percent lower, wiping out a gain
of about 1 percent before publication of the court ruling.
Renault shares ended 1.3 percent higher.
Peugeot said talks on the cutbacks were going ahead on
Tuesday as scheduled and would continue on Feb. 5 and Feb. 12.
"The negotiations are not suspended and will continue to
make progress," a company spokesman said. He gave no new time
frame for implementation, which the company had previously aimed
to begin in February or March.
($1 = 0.7429 euros)
(Additional reporting by Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by David
Goodman and Helen Massy-Beresford)