Alstom has signalled it will go ahead with plans to shut down manufacturing at its Belfort plant, setting up a confrontation with President Francois Hollande who vowed “everything will be done” to prevent that. David Pollard reports.
Alstom and French leaders clash over train plant
These production lines aren’t the only things in a spin over Alstom.
On Sunday, French prime minister, Manuel Valls, calling for the manufacturer’s train plant to be saved.
Now his boss going one step further.
(SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT, FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, SAYING:
“I guarantee here that everything will be done so that the Belfort site can be allowed to continue, and continue for many years.”
Not according to Alstom’s boss in a memo to staff.
Belfort has made trains since 1880 – but it’s no longer getting orders in France.
And production of its famous TGV high-speed trains, he says, is no longer assured beyond 2018.
Its 400 workers will be offered jobs at other sites – the plant itself must go.
Something the president is loathe to do himself in next April’s election.
(SOUNDBITE) (English): DARREN SINDEN, INDEPENDENT MARKET ANALYST, SAYING:
“Old habits die hard in France. State interference, or involvement as they would probably prefer to call it, in industry is not going to go away overnight. I suspect though if Alstom really want to close the plant, the French government will ultimately have to acquiesce, although with a presidential election in the offing I imagine politicians will try to make capital out of it whilst they can.”
The government holds a 20 per cent stake in Alstom after a controversial deal to sell its power business to GE did go through last year.
But with one in ten unemployed in France, jobs are a key platform issue for Hollande.
And despite a one billion euros net loss last year, Alstom’s fans point to a recent two billion dollar deal with Amtrak in the US.
A sign, they say, of a brighter future … if right now any future at all looks in doubt.