PARIS – President Francois Hollande vowed Saturday to take action to stop huge job cuts at carmaker Peugeot and to revive France’s stagnant economy as he gave his first major interview since his May election.
In the televised interview after taking the salute at France’s annual Bastille Day military parade, Hollande said the state would not stand idly by after PSA Peugeot Citroen announced plans this week to cut 8,000 jobs.
"This plan is not acceptable, it must be renegotiated," Hollande said in the interview with the TF1 and France 2 channels, adding: "The state will not leave this be."
Hollande said the government would launch consultations to find ways "to reduce the number of jobs being cut" and to ensure that no employees were let go without compensation.
Struggling with falling European sales, Peugeot shocked France Thursday by announcing the job cuts, sparking union anger and underlining the country’s difficulty competing in the international labor market.
Socialist Hollande was elected in May on a promise to put the economy back on track, focusing on growth rather than austerity measures adopted elsewhere in Europe in the face of the eurozone debt crisis.
"The first priority is employment. Everything must be done so that employment is as high as possible at the end of my five-year term," Hollande said. He also promised France would clean up its public finances, saying: "We will control spending, make savings." – AFP