Peugeot wins majority union backing for cuts plan

PARIS Mon Mar 18, 2013 5:57pm GMT

A man cleans a company logo on a Peugeot car parked in Paris, February 12, 2013. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

A man cleans a company logo on a Peugeot car parked in Paris, February 12, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Christian Hartmann

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PARIS (Reuters) - French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUP.PA) won majority union support for restructuring plans on Monday, as protesting workers clashed with police in front of its Paris headquarters.

Four of Peugeot's six unions approved the measures, which include thousands of job cuts and a factory closure, and a fifth grouping is expected to sign the agreement, the struggling carmaker and workers' representatives said.

The works council backed the restructuring plan by 15 votes to four, with one abstention.

The vote "clears the way for a rapid signing of the accord", Peugeot spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mounier said.

Peugeot, the mass automaker worst hit by Europe's market slump, is struggling to cut costs and lift sales in an effort to return to profit in 2015. The measures announced last July have earmarked its Aulnay plant near Paris for closure and increased the number of planned job cuts to more than 10,000.

Workers and their representatives are divided over the plans amid mounting tensions between strikers at Aulnay and staff still reporting for shifts.

"We're calling on the minority of workers continuing to block Aulnay to rejoin those who are working for Peugeot's future," Peugeot manufacturing chief Denis Martin said.

Concerns about intimidation and violence among workers last month prompted a majority of unions to back moves to begin winding down the plant ahead of schedule.

About 200 striking workers, including leftwing CGT union supporters from Aulnay, were involved in stand-offs with police outside Peugeot headquarters as Monday's meeting got under way.

The CGT and CFDT representatives voted against the restructuring, while FO, SIA, CGC and CFTC officials voted in favour, unions said. The restructuring has split the CFDT, which is nonetheless expected to sign the plan.

The CGT said in a statement that it had identified procedural irregularities in the agreement and vowed to "contest the validity of this consultation by any means necessary".

Peugeot will begin implementing the cuts and further worker transfers between sites only after the next works council meeting scheduled for late April, spokesman Mounier said.

(Reporting by Laurence Frost; Editing by Jane Merriman and David Goodman)

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