One of Renault's major unions is claiming the automaker is using the current economic difficulties in France to impose new conditions, as the manufacturer concluded the first of several key meetings with its labour bodies.

France's powerful Confederation Generale du Travail (CGT) made its strong statement last night (6 November) after a meeting between Renault and its four major labour bodies, including the CFDT, FO and CFE-CGC.

"Management is profiting from the current context in the country [France], but also by blackmail on unions and Spanish employees with a view to achieving new social means after those already conceded - working more, paying less, taking on new hires at 65% of salary," said a CGT statement emailed to just-auto from Paris.

"As the CGT has shown, you don't solve the problems of our business by imposing and increasing recepies, which have shown their social damage, but also their economic non-sense, externalisation, delocalisation, reduction in break-times, resulting in the lack of opportunities for our company. Spain is a good example in that regard."

For its part however, Renault insists yesterday's meeting - the first of four planned with unions - was to discuss "all propositions and solutions" - whether that involves working time, quality of life at work, efficiency of the organisation or wage policy.

"For the time being we have just opened negotiations and said we are willing to discuss everything together," a Renault spokeswoman told just-auto from Paris. "We have said obviously the market is down and it is going to be down for the next three or four years.

"We have to find some long-term structural measures - to get long-term durable solutions."

Renault added there would be "at least" four other meetings with its unions before the end of the year, with the next discussions slated for 13 November.

The CGT's strong reaction however, suggests the automaker could be in for some tough bargaining with the union firing a parting shot at the manufacturer. 

"Workers are not a cost but an investment without which, no wealth is created and a business would have nothing to sell," said the labour body.