American multinational conglomerate, General Electric’s French head Hugh Bailey in a media interview published on Sunday in France’s Journal Du Dimanche announced that the company is planning to cut jobs in the range of thousands at its eastern France factory but would not close the factory down.
According to the company, the site would continue to remain GE Power’s number one industrial site in Europe, but it would look to explore alternative options for the plant as Belfort's sales of gas turbines halved between 2017 and 2018 as the group struggled to remain competitive.
Currently, the Belfort plant handles gas, steam, nuclear and hydro technology but the company is looking into different alternatives like building aeronautical parts. Further this move, according to the company, is aimed at making its operations more resourceful in France in response to a dwindling market for power plants.
French industrial group, Alstom, was Belfort’s biggest employer until 2014, but then it sold off its gas turbine business to GE. While GE needed backing from the French government for winning the deal had promised to create 1,000 of jobs at the plant.
But now with the gas turbine power plant market collapsing, the company failed its promise and in February GE agreed to pay 50 million euros ($56 million) into a reindustrialization fund for falling short of the target.
This news prompted France’s Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire to say he would fight to save jobs at the site as negotiations kicked off with unions.