French automaker Renault, in financial difficulty, plans to cut around 15,000 jobs worldwide, including 4,600 in France, as part of a savings plan of 2 billion euros over three years, we learned Thursday evening from concordant sources. The group's project, which has 180,000 employees worldwide, must be made public on Friday morning. He plans to reduce the workforce "without layoffs" through voluntary departures, retirements not replaced and internal mobility or retraining measures, these sources told AFP.
It should affect four sites in France, under conditions that remain to be defined in part: Caudan (Morbihan), Choisy-le-Roi (Val-de-Marne), Dieppe (Seine-Maritime) and Maubeuge (North).
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After information published in the French press referring to the closure of French sites, President Emmanuel Macron had called Tuesday "guarantees" for the future of employees. He had put pressure on Renault by warning that a state-guaranteed loan of 5 billion euros would not be signed before discussions were held early next week. The French State is the largest shareholder in the diamond group with 15% of the capital.
Renault had published in February its first annual losses in ten years and announced in the process a reduction in its fixed costs of two billion euros per year. The manufacturer's difficulties, which suffers from production overcapacity, predated the Covid-19 pandemic, but were aggravated by the crisis.
The savings plan was presented to the unions on Thursday evening, during a group social and economic committee (CCSE).
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Earlier Thursday, Nissan, Renault's Japanese partner, had announced the closure of its Spanish plant in Barcelona and the removal of about 20% of its global production capacity by 2023. Wednesday, Renault, Nissan and their ally Mitsubishi Motors had announced a strategic shift, now favoring profitability in the race for volumes, breaking with the plans of the ousted former boss Carlos Ghosn.
According to the Renault savings plan revealed to the unions, global production capacities should decrease, from 4 million vehicles currently to some 3.3 million, on a two-team basis (which corresponds to higher real production in the case of a third team). Renault will suspend plans to extend factories in Morocco and Romania, plans to reduce its production capacity in Russia, its mechanical activities in South Korea and the manufacture of gearboxes in Turkey.
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The project includes in France the shutdown of automobile production in Flins (Yvelines), after the end of the Zoe in a few years. The factory, which currently has 2,600 employees, will be converted and will recover activity from the Choisy-le-Roi site, which employs 260 people in a parts recycling activity. The future of Fonderie de Bretagne, with nearly 400 employees in Caudan (Morbihan), remains pending with a "strategic review" announced. The same goes for the Dieppe plant (Seine-Maritime), where work will begin on a conversion project at the end of production of the Alpine 110.
Finally, the merger of the Douai and Maubeuge sites in the North is planned to create a center of excellence for electric and light commercial vehicles. Production of Kangoo electric utilities should however be transferred to Douai, which will inherit a new platform. This factory, which produces the Espace, Scenic and Talisman models, currently uses less than a quarter of its capacity.
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During the CCSE, “the word closure was never used. The subject remains whole " for " the sites which are in the viewfinder and for which there is going to be a reflection " , underlined Franck Daout of the CFDT. For Douai and Maubeuge, "we are going towards negotiations" , he added. “The word closure was never said. They chose their words well " , the management speaking only of" hypotheses, of projects ", declared Guillaume Ribeyre, CFE-CGC delegate. " They present it as working hypotheses, say " we will do it with you " , when everything is already decided," criticized another union official, on condition of anonymity.
In France, an information-consultation procedure for staff representatives is due to start in mid-June. A group board of directors met on Thursday evening. The savings plan of two billion euros is distributed for around a third on production, a third on engineering and a third on structural, marketing and network costs.
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