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GE says French plant set for dismissal will not shut down

PARIS (Reuters) – A General Electric (GE) factory in East France where the US group is planning job cuts, will not close, and the company looks at options there, including building flights, said GE's French chief in a media interview .

FILE PHOTO: The logo of the US General Electric conglomerate is depicted on the company's Belfort Energy Department website, February 5, 2019. REUTERS / Vincent Kessler / Filfoto

Plans announced on Tuesday for over 1000 potential redundancies, mainly targeted against the Belfort facility, France's Minister of Economic Affairs Bruno Le Maire asked to say he would fight to save jobs on the ground when negotiations started with unions.

GE had said the move was intended to make the operation more efficient in France in response to a shrinking power plant market. Belfort handles gas, steam, nuclear power and hydrotechnology.

In an interview published on Sunday in French journal Du Dimanche, Hugh Bailey, general manager of GE in France, said that Belfort's gas turbine sales had halved between 2017 and 2018, and the group struggled to remain competitive.

"That said, I'll be ready, Belfort won't close," Bailey said. "It will remain GE Power's first industrial area in Europe."

Bailey said that gas power still had a future, but that other areas that evolved rapidly – such as renewable energy and energy storage – could also be the key.

He said that GE businesses in other countries could be affected by the restructuring, even though he did not provide details.

"GE's energy problems are well-known. As for this project, the announcement is part of a global decision, which is then adapted at European level, country by country," says Bailey to the JDD.

The French industrial group Alstom was Belfort's largest employer until 2014 when it sold its turbine production business to GE, which committed to creating 1,000 jobs to win support for the French government agreement.

However, the company had to break the obligation when the gasoline power market collapsed. agreement to pay 50 million euros (56 million dollars) to a reindustrialization fund to fall less than the target.

Reporting Sarah White; Editing Chris Reese

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. [19659015]

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