* Veolia aims to cut 1,500 jobs in French water business -
* Veolia employs 230,000 worldwide, 26,900 in French water
* Unions say talks to run until June, see cuts by year-end
(Adds quotes, detail)
PARIS, March 20 French water and waste firm
Veolia Environnement has started talks with unions
about cutting 1,500 jobs in its French water business.
The group employs 230,000 people worldwide, including 26,900
in its French water business, which has been under pressure from
the economic crisis as municipalities squeeze its margins.
"Management has opened talks with the unions about
employment at the company. This concerns 1,500 jobs in our water
business in France," a company spokeswoman said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile an official with the CGT union told Reuters the
talks would continue until June with a view to putting a
redundancy plan in place by the end of this year.
"At the works council yesterday the company announced a
voluntary redundancies plan that would concern 1,500 people and
possible more," CGT union representative Franck Le Roux told
Last year, the company was forced to sell about 3.5 billion
euros ($4.65 billion) worth of assets to reduce debt and had to
withdraw from half of the countries in which it operated.
Veolia is the world's largest private supplier of drinking
water, providing water for 100 million people, and treating
waste water for 71 million people.
(Reporting by Benjamin Mallet and Dominique Vidalon; Writing by
Geert De Clercq; Editing by Greg Mahlich)