Two days after Elisabeth Borne took office at Matignon, here is the former Minister of Labor faced with his first hot file. This is the French group of seamless tubes Vallourec. This Wednesday, the French company reports a reduction “about 2,400 positions” notably following the closure of its German sites, as well as the deletion “about 550 posts” in support functions.
On these job losses, «320 [seront] in France, including 65 at headquarters» of Meudon (Hauts-de-Seine), detailed the CEO Philippe Guillemot, during a conference call. Some 250 jobs will be cut in the north of France: just under a hundred on the Saint-Saulve site, a hundred in Aulnoye-Aymeries and the balance on the shared services center in Valenciennes (North), specifies Philippe Guillemot, appointed less than two months ago to complete the restructuring of the group and make it more profitable.
“The group’s continued policy of abandoning its industrial activities in France is not acceptable”, reacted to Twitter the LR president of the Hauts-de-France region, Xavier Bertrand, asking the State to“explain its position as a major shareholder via Bpifrance [Banque publique d’investissement, ndlr]». He specified that he had obtained from the CEO of Vallourec “an emergency meeting” Friday with employee representatives, local elected officials and management.
In mid-November, Vallourec, which was emerging from a long process of financial restructuring, announced the sale of its German activities and the cessation of manufacturing in Europe of tubes for industry. It planned to transfer part of its activities to Brazil.
According to the company, this is because no “credible buyer has been identified” for the German activities, that their closure has been announced. This “results in further rationalization of other European assets in charge of finishing rolled tubes in Germany”, adds Vallourec. And in particular the closing of the “heat treatment line” from the French factory in Saint-Saulve.
The first departures could take place from the end of 2022, and spread out “over the whole of 2023, in particular in Germany”, since this country will continue to produce as long as the volumes that are made in Germany are not transferred to Brazil, according to CEO Philippe Guillemot.
“We are fatalists, we suspected it […] it is the closure of the site purely and simply, deplores Michaël Tison, CFDT delegate of the Saint-Saulve site, at the exit of the factory where the announcement was made to the employees. Vallourec has had public money to make investments in Brazil or China, they are going to build factories there and France is the winner.
Vallourec’s boss says he has “already solutions for a third of the posts cut in France, between retireesearly retirement and internal redeployment”. And the cost-killer to ensure: “It is a necessary and not to say vital step”, with decisions that must “enable the group to be profitable whatever the market conditions”.
He now wishes to position the group “as a key player in the energy transition and a low-carbon economy”, in particular by positioning itself in “hydrogen storage, capture, transport and carbon sequestration“.
The French group achieved 916 million euros in turnover in the first quarter of 2022, up 30.5% compared to the same period in 2021, reducing its net loss to 35 million euros against 93 million. euros in 2021 over the same period.