French automaker Renault outlined plans Tuesday for the elimination of 6,000 jobs in France and Europe in a bid to become more competitive, sparking a strike call from a key trade union.
Renault presented its workers' committee with details of a plan, announced in July, for the voluntary departure of 4,000 employees in France by April 2009 and said it was preparing an additional 2,000 job cuts in Europe under an initiative to be formally unveiled September 18.
Renault, which currently employs 41,000 people in France, is struggling to overcome the effects of a sluggish domestic and European market and hopes to save 350 million euros (497 million dollars) in 2009 and 500 million in 2010.
But Fabien Gache, a representative of the powerful CGT union, denounced the job-cut scheme, insisting it was "unjustified" and amounted to a "defeat" for Renault chairman Carlos Ghosn.
"Over three years, since 2005, 10,000 workers will have lost their jobs at Renault -- it's as if the company had closed two factories."
He said the CGT was calling for a strike at Renault facilities in France on Thursday and would appeal to other unions to join the stoppage.
"In 2005 there were 44,143 workers at Renault and we sold 2,533,428 vehicles worldwide. In 2009 Carlos Ghosn wants to sell 3.0 million with 35,000 employees," Gache argued.
A Renault spokeswoman described the European automobile market as "saturated."
"Growth markets are international and it is in light of them that decisions must be made," she said.
"In France we produce more than a million vehicles a year, with 650,000 sold. Our production is therefore out of line with the market."
She said the 2,000 job reductions foreseen in Europe would come through voluntary departures.
"If there are not enough volunteers, we'll make some other arrangement. It's not a question of firing people."