PARIS, Oct 2 (Reuters) - French trainmaker Alstom’s historic Belfort production site in eastern France is set to be “saved” from closure at a meeting with labour unions next week, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Sunday.
Eager to avoid a high-profile industrial shutdown seven months before a presidential election, the Socialist government has promised a plan to keep production going at the factory, which makes locomotives and built Alstom’s first steam engines in the 1880s and 40 years ago the first of its high-speed TGV locomotives.
Government representatives and unions are due to meet on Tuesday to discuss ways to prevent the site’s closure after the company announced on Sept. 7 it planned to transfer production to another site due to insufficient orders.
“Tuesday we will save Alstom’s site in Belfort,” Valls said in an interview on LCI TV on Sunday.
He said France’s junior industry minister Christophe Sirugue would propose various concrete options such as government orders.
Under Alstom’s plan 400 jobs are due to be transferred from Belfort to its other sites in France as it winds down production there, keeping it only for repair and maintenance work.
Alstom Chief Executive Henri Poupart-Lafarge has said that it has little choice but to shift production from Belfort because of a dearth of new French train orders. (Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt; Editing by Greg Mahlich)