UPDATE 1-French unions: we still oppose EDF reform after talks with government

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PARIS, May 4 (Reuters) - France’s biggest trade unions said on Tuesday talks with the government over a planned restructuring of power group EDF have failed to change their opposition to the plan.

In a statement, the CFDT, CGT, Force Ouvriere and CFE unions demanded that the plan, codenamed “Project Hercules” be dropped.

The government has been conducting negotiations with trade union leaders with the aim of persuading them to soften their opposition.

“It’s still a no,” the statement said, adding that the coalition of trade unions “reaffirm their complete opposition to this plan for the dismantling of EDF.” The statement did not rule out further talks with the government.

Project Hercules was conceived by the French government as a way to secure the future of EDF’s debt-laden and capital-hungry nuclear arm, while allowing more lucrative parts of the business to flourish free from the broader group’s liabilities.

The plan is to nationalise a holding company which will include the nuclear assets. A separate entity, controlled by the holding company, will be created to house the more lucrative businesses.

Trade unions say the plan would mean sacrificing a national industrial champion which serves the French public, in the hope of achieving uncertain benefits. (Reporting by Benjamin Mallet; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Louise Heavens)