France: Car workers protest Peugeot job cut

July 14, 2012

French car-maker Peugeot-Citroen announced a drastic cost-cutting plan on July 12 to slash 8000 jobs in France and close a major factory in Aulnay-sous-Bois north of Paris.

Hundreds of workers at the Aulnay plant walked off the job and staged a protest in front of the site, which is one of France's biggest car factories and a bastion of car workers' trade unions.

"It's a show of disgust because Peugeot has played with us for a year, over a year now, saying that it's not certain, we're not going to close," said Khenniche of the SUD union, who has worked at the plant for 17 years.

Assembly-line worker Abdallah Baih said: "I woke up this morning and saw on the TV that the site is going to close. We really feel anger. It's so unfair."

The seven trade unions at the factory have been leading a fight to save the plant and have vowed to take action.

They say that thousands of other staff in businesses connected to the plant will also be affected, not to mention the families of workers who will be out of a job or forced to move.

The unions described the announcement today as a "declaration of war" and an "earthquake" and social affairs minister Marisol Touraine said that the cuts were "unacceptable."

The closure has long been rumoured. But management have continually reassured workers and unions that the "secret plan" to close the plant was only "an outline proposal".

The plan also includes 1400 job cuts at the company's Rennes factory and 3600 jobs in other French sites.

Around half of those currently employed at Aulnay may be offered new jobs at Peugeot's plant at Poissy.

The crisis facing Peugeot reflects the growing gap between rich and poor across Europe.

Over the past couple of years, companies that make high profits from selling luxury cars have done very well, but traditional mass-market carmakers face a falling market.

A few days earlier, workers at the company's van plant in Sevelnord, which assembles the Peugeot Expert, were asked to agree to a pay freeze, hundreds of job cuts and other concessions or face possible closure.

[Reprinted from Morning Star.]

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