Alcatel-Lucent SA has pledged not to reduce the number of job cuts at the French telecom equipment maker, despite street protests at the intended axing of 12,500 of its 79,000-strong workforce.
Last month the Paris, France-based company posted a fourth-quarter net loss of 613m euros ($796m), which it blamed on market uncertainty following the merger, the overall market decline especially in US carrier spending, and heightened competition.
In an effort to cut costs and restore the fortunes of the equipment maker, CEO Patricia Russo announced she would cut another 3,500 jobs on top of the 9,000 jobs cuts she had previously announced. Alcatel-Lucent then revealed that 1,468 positions would be lost in France.
However, the decision to only cut a relatively modest number of French staff attracted political invention. Alcatel-Lucent said in late February that it would actively participate in the French government initiative to launch a workgroup on the future of telecoms in Europe led by the French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. Then last week Alcatel-Lucent’s European works council met to discuss concerns about the restructuring, with a further meeting planned for March 23.
In time for this meeting, staff took to the streets, with union representatives estimating that approximately 5,000 staff marched in the protest, although the police put the figure nearer to 3,000.
In spite of this opposition, Russo seems determined to stick to her guns. In an interview with the French La Tribune newspaper, she said there was no plan to change the overall figure of 12,500 job cuts. But she conceded that the company would hold talks on the implementation of these cuts. She also said the company was committed to retaining its R&D facilities in North America and western Europe.