Two French Mayors near the Bosch Rodez injector factory facing jobs uncertainty, are calling for an end to attacks on the diesel sector.

Both politicians from the towns of Onet-le-Château and Rodez are urging Paris to put the future of the Bosch factory on the table at the next Franco-German political summit, while at the same time pleading for an end to “diesel bashing.”

The sector has faced multiple challenges in the last few years, culminating only last week with the extraordinary revelation Volkswagen had suspended its media chief in connection with animal tests financed by the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT).

Reports are circulating diesel fumes tests were conducted on monkeys, while others speculated humans were subjected to tailpipe emissions evaluation, but French Mayors, Jean-Philippe Keroslian et Christian Teyssèdre are calling for State involvement to address the issue.

France and Germany – widely seen as the engine of the European Union – meet regularly at Head of State level – with the Mayors of Onet-le-Château and Rodez arguing the future of the 1,600-strong  Bosch workforce making diesel injectors be moved up the agenda.

A grouping of French labour bodies, known as an ‘Intersyndicale’ and encompassing the CGT Bosch Rodez, Bosch CFDT, CFE-CGC and Sud-Metal unions, has expressed views there could be up to 450 jobs threatened at the diesel injector plant, but no confirmation has come from the German supplier to that effect.

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A huge sign currently adorns the front of Onet-le-Château’s town hall reading: “[We] Support Bosch and its 1,600 employees,” as the German supplier wrestles with massively falling demand for diesel vehicles in France.

“In the context of diesel vehicle sales decline, it would be advisable for Bosch to spread its injector production fairly at all its sites, especially as Onet-le-Château has exemplary and recognised production quality,” said a joint statement from Mayors, Jean-Philippe Keroslian et Christian Teyssèdre.

“In addition, any possible local avenues of [work] conversion, are still to be deepened and we are waiting for constructive proposals from Bosch’s German management on this.

“We note the Bosch Group had a EUR3bn (US$3.7bn) turnover in France. It is therefore necessary investments in our country have a good correlation with such financial results.

“In the end, the guarantee of the Onet-le-Château factory will also happen from more patriotism by French manufacturers and an end to non-stop ‘diesel bashing,’ fuelled by scandals.

“The [French] State should take its responsibilities in this matter by intervening, notably with PSA and Renault and by putting the subject on the agenda at the next Franco-German summit.”

The Intersyndicale said Bosch diesel systems president, Uwe Gackstatter travelled to Rodez near Toulouse on 26 January and mooted an investment at the site of EUR14m, with the body maintaining this would be financed by unions, the region and the French State.

Part of the reason why both Mayors are taking such a keen interest in the future of the Bosch plant, is the supplier is the largest private employer in the Département de l’Aveyron, having been at the Onet-le-Château factory for more than 50 years, 

“Uncertainties threaten the future of this industrial site,” added comments on Onet-le-Château’s website. “Diesel-bashing, emphasised by overtaxing of the fuel, has led to vehicle sales plunging.

“This denigration of diesel, orchestrated more strongly since 2017, is unacceptable, irresponsible and destructive for the morale of the 1,600 employees.”

Bosch confirmed to just-auto Bosch France had a EUR3bn turnover in 2016, but there were no further updates concerning Rodez at this stage.

French Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, estimates there are 12,000 jobs directly dependent on the diesel sector in the country.