Striking workers at France’s Fonderie du Poitou Aluminium (FPA) have returned to work following a two-month walk-out, although the cylinder head producer is now up for sale.
The dispute has been one of the most bitter in recent French industrial relations with unions claiming FPA owners Montupet wanted to impose the equivalent of a 25% pay cut or three months annual salary at the plant, 85% of whose work is directed towards Renault.
FPA’s long-running strike has reached the upper echelons of France’s political establishment, with Industry Minister Eric Besson raising the issue in the country’s Parliament in Paris.
“We have a transitory management which is under the new managing director and new human resources,” main FDP union CFE-CGC official Alex Jamain told just-auto from France. “For the moment it [factory] is for sale – we are looking for a buyer.
“Production continues with a charge to find new markets – we do cylinder heads but we could plan for other things. With 85% of our production with Renault, we will see what we can do.”
Jamain added the CFE-CGC union had met Besson to discuss the situation, with the Industry Minister calling Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn. It appears the Renault chief gave an assurance the automaker would continue to order parts from FDP, although for how long remains unclear.
“Besson in the Assemblee Nationale [said]: ‘We will never let pass a plan such as this'” said Jamain. “It is not a victory, we didn’t want to find ourselves as a low-cost country. We are turning the page.”
There does not appear to be an immediate buyer for FPA, although the CFE-CGC highlighted the “moral” support of the State and automakers as “indispensable” for any future takeover.
Montupet was not immediately available in Paris, but a previous statement from the company noted non-striking staff at the factory in Western France had had “intolerable pressure” put on them by other employees in a bid to dissuade them from entering the site and working.