General Electric Co. plans to cut as many as 1,044 jobs in its beleaguered French power-equipment business, setting up another clash with political leaders after years of wrangling over manufacturing employment in the country.
The company presented union officials with a plan to “regain sustainable competitiveness” by eliminating positions in gas-power operations and support functions, GE said by email Tuesday. A spokesman said the actions would affect 792 gas-power and 252 support workers, primarily at the company’s Belfort site.
The decision underscores the severity of the downturn in the global market for fossil fuel-based power generation, which has been at the heart of GE’s troubles in recent years. The company said in late 2017 that it would cut 12,000 jobs in GE Power, and new Chief Executive Officer Larry Culp has said fixing the unit is one of his biggest challenges.
Despite an industrywide slump, GE’s job cuts in France have been a particular flash point after the company pledged to create 1,000 net new positions in the country as part of its 2015 acquisition of Alstom SA’s energy operations. France, which has continuously pressured GE to hold to the commitments, fined the Boston-based company $57 million in February for creating just 25 new jobs.
The latest cuts represent about one-quarter of GE’s 4,300 workers in Belfort. GE said discussions over the jobs proposal would begin in mid-June and no action would be taken until the negotiations are complete.
By Richard Clough, with assistance from Oliver Sachgau and William Horobin.