Three to four percent of the 30,000 Renault SAS workers in France on Thursday staged short strikes - an hour each in the morning and afternoon at some sites - to protest against voluntary job cuts announced earlier this week but were all back at work on Friday morning (12 September).

A Renault spokeswoman told just-auto that no strike action was taking place on Friday. "Everybody is back to work today."

The CGT union had yesterday called for a company-wide action but not all sites were affected and, of those that were, the proportion of workers downing tools was low.

As of 5pm on Thursday night, 9.6% at Cleon, 6.3% at Sandouville (where Renault wants to axe 1,000 workers on a second Laguna shift), 3.7% at the Clio-making Flins factory and 4.7% at the technical centre. No head office staff participated.

"There were some plants were no-one went on strike and some where they did, so that's why the percentage is so low," the spokeswoman said.

Renault wants to cut structural costs in France by 10% and signalled the jobs cull some months ago, announced some details on 1 September and confirmed the full package last Tuesday. Another works council meeting is scheduled for 1 October. In the meantime, will continue discussing departure incentive details with unions.

The automaker is hoping 3,000 'overhead' staff not directly linked to production plus about 1,000 employees from Sandouville plant, including production staff, will take up the offer, which is open until 30 April.

The deal offers employees a variety of options to leave or retire. The best packages are available to those who take up the offer before the end of this year, however.

Renault also plans to shed another 2,000 jobs in other European countries but has yet to announce details.

It is after cost savings of EUR350m in 2009 and EUR500m euros in 2010. Renault has also reduced its 2009 sales forecast by 10% to 3m units.

It is understood that unions have suggested other ideas, such as cutting car prices to boost sales, rather than layoffs.

Graeme Roberts

Renault braces for tough times