Toyota has hailed the overall stability of private sector industrial relations in France, contrasting them with wider unrest in the public domain as economic pressures fuel domestic labour unrest.

Only this week French television showed pictures of large numbers of police and teachers demonstrating in Paris, but Toyota is keen to point out the general stability of non-State labour relations.

"Never forget one thing," Toyota Motor Europe (TME) president and CEO, Didier Leroy, said on the sidelines of this week's Nord France Invest automotive conference in Lille. "In France, 25% are working as civil servants. More than 75% of strike hours...are done by civil servants.

"That does not mean industry is zero, but in industry or the private sector, France is much more at the level of Europe."

Turning to the European automotive situation overall, the TME CEO added he did not believe the market would continue to decrease, although he cautioned any rebound would be modest.

"It [market] will recover, but very slowly," he said. "Even in 2020, you will globally not be at the 2007 level. But at least we have started to [grow] - at least we have some growth."

Addressing delegates earlier at the Nord France Invest conference, titled: 'The Lille region, an engine of the European automotive industry,' Leroy noted: "Europe will stay one of the big markets - Europe is a leader of automotive business in terms of innovation and quality. Europe is the first market for regulations.

"Forecasts to 2017 are more optimistic - low growth but it will remain one of the big markets."

Leroy also highlighted the positive performance of the UK automotive sector, which has shown remarkable consistency in its emergence from the downturn.

"The UK is flying - not just for one or two months but 20 months," he said.