A voluntary departure plan that Renault in July said was "under consideration" when it announced its first-half results has now been submitted to the automaker's works council.

It's part of a five-part programme to cut structural costs - primarily in Europe - by 10%.

Renault SAS (Renault in France excluding subsidiaries, employing 41,700 people) on Monday (1 September) sent the plan to the works council, which will hold a briefing and consultation meeting on 9 September.

Renault insisted the plan would "function solely on a voluntary basis" but said it had set a target of 3,000 departures.

Initially, it is for "overhead staff" not directly linked to production plus managers, technicians and supervisors working in production plants.

The programme would offer assistance to workers to leave and pursue work elsewhere, create their own business, retire, go on 'redeployment leave' or even help foreign employees return to their home country.

"Candidates for voluntary departure may receive individual support and financial incentives," Renault said.

Dedicated services would be set up to help employees pursue redeployment plans outside the company.

Renault said the plan could be expanded to another 1,000 workers at its Sandouville plant where it is considering cutting Laguna production line shifts from two to one.

Other measures affecting staff in subsidiaries will be presented to the group works council soon.

Gérard Leclercq, Renault's head of human resources, said: "Our aim is for this departure plan to function solely on a voluntary basis. We hope that it will give employees an opportunity to achieve a personal or financial gain or to improve their quality of life through their mobility.

"We will put in place all the resources necessary to ensure that each person receives support in building and pursuing his/her personal plan."

Renault sales in Europe in July were off 8.4% year on year to 89,333 units, according to Jato Dynamics, while year to date sales were down 1.8% to 727,054.

Group results for August in France, published today, show sales off 4.2% year on year for the month at 31,756 units but up 5.6% year to date.