Renault is restructuring in view of new triennial plan
Renault wants to conclude a new social agreement on its triennial plan (2022-2024). This foresees hiring 2 500 new employees and licensing 2 000 others. Thus, a net gain of 500 in France, Renault points out.
It forgets that it’s still diminishing its personnel in France (some 46 000 in all) with 4 600 people due to the big crisis the last few years and the big savings plan of May 2020. Renault CEO Luca de Meo wants to close the social deal with his employees before the end of the year.
Nine new cars to be built in France
The 2 500 new jobs will be needed to build nine new cars in the French factories of the (still partly state-owned) manufacturer. These will work in Cléon for manufacturing the future 100 kW electromotor and the mentioned vehicles.
These are the electric Mégane and its SUV sibling, the electric R5, the new electric Kangoo and a fifth, yet undefined car (the new R4?). They will all be built in the ‘Electricity pole’ of Douai/Maubeuge (north of France).
There will also be a new electric Alpine in Dieppe and a Trafic in Sandouville (both in Seine-Maritime), the replacement of the Master LCV, and a ninth car built for a partner.
Less white collars
On the other hand, Renault plans to let go some 1 600 engineers and 400 supporting jobs, most of them linked to the internal combustion technology. “We want to stay a long time in France with all the activities with a high added value,” says Luca de Meo, talking to the French newspaper Le Monde.
“It’s a new perspective following a very complicated period,” he adds. “We had to redimension the company to its new economic reality. In France, we fell back to producing 500 000 cars per year due to wrong decisions dating from 2012/2013. Cars like the actual Espace, Talisman, or even Scénic didn’t work so well.”
“Now, we’re aiming at 700 000 cars produced in France, a 40% rise. That’s where we need to hire a new workforce.”
Meanwhile, there will still be people leaving the company. “They will mainly be white-collared,” indicates Guillaume Ribeyre, representative of the CFE-CGC union. “We won’t accept naked job cuts or the closing of sites,” he adds.
“The reality is that Renault’s engineering department is overstaffed,” de Meo answers. “Between 2015 and 2019, it hired 30% more people. So now, we have to concentrate on high-level competencies in battery chemistry, data analysis, and simply building (electric) cars. So we will launch a reconversion program for 10 000 of our employees.”
New financial health
Of course, that’s not the message the workers of Fonderies du Poitou Alu want to hear, a supplier producing aluminum cylinder heads in Vienne. The site is under threat of closing, and the workers want to occupy the site to put pressure on their sole client, Renault.
“We understand their situation,” replies de Meo, “but our group can’t resolve the problems of all suppliers; we don’t have the means to do this. Europe wants electric cars; an electric motor has far less steel or aluminum than an ICE. That’s just the way it is… We don’t feel responsible either for the fact that the French industrial system doesn’t allow us to build small cars competitively in the Hexagon.”
And de Meo continues: “I would like to remind you that one year ago, we were in a hazardous situation, losing some €8 billion in one semester. Today, we’ve changed course, but our financial means are still limited.”
Nevertheless, de Meo promises a net amelioration of the financial situation. The profit margin of 2,8% in the first half of 2021 is not so far from the 2023 aim (3%) and makes the 5% objective for 2025 plausible.
Unfortunately, the chips shortage is now perturbing everything. “We are in the most difficult phase of this crisis, concludes de Meo. “It’s complicated to make predictions now. However, one can really say we have been submitted to almost everything apart from a plague of locusts.”