France's CGT trade union calls on EDF board to reject Fessenheim closure

PARIS, April 5 (Reuters) - France’s hardline CGT trade union has called on workers’ representatives on the board of state-controlled utility EDF to reject the shutdown of the Fessenheim nuclear plant, expected to be tabled during a meeting on Thursday.

The union has also urged its members to picket the headquarters of the company during the meeting to keep pressure on the board members.

EDF has scheduled a board meeting for April 6 to decide on stopping Fessenheim, France’s oldest nuclear plant. The closure of the 1,800 megawatts plant was an election promise of outgoing French President Francois Hollande in 2012.

The CGT, which is against the closure because it says it would result in job losses, said shutting down Fessenheim would be an economic and industrial waste.

“The Fessenheim plant is safe, and it is recognized as such by the Nuclear Safety Authority,” the CGT said in a statement, adding that the plant contributes to French energy security.

France, a major electricity exporter in Europe, depends on its 58 nuclear reactors for more than 75 percent of its electricity supply.

The outcome of the 18-member board meeting on Thursday is uncertain because only 12 members, including the 6 union representatives, will vote while state representatives would have to abstain to avoid any conflict of interest.

EDF and the government have reached a 490 million euros ($523 million) compensation agreement covering costs associated with the closure.

The company also received some guarantees that could allow it to shut down the reactor by end-2018, when it starts production at its new generation EPR reactor under construction in Flamanville in northern France.

$1 = 0.9372 euros Reporting by Bate Felix and Benjamin Mallet; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta