It is a first social plan since the arrival of Elisabeth Borne at Matignon. The French manufacturer of seamless tubes Vallourec announced on Wednesday its intention to cut some 2,950 jobs worldwide, including 320 in France.
In detail, the group announced, in a press release, a reduction “of approximately 2,400 positions” following in particular the closure of its German sites, as well as the elimination of “approximately 550 positions” in support functions. In mid-November, at the end of a long process of financial restructuring, Vallourec 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.
“We ask Vallourec that the consequences of the plan on French activities be minimized and we demand that the forging, threading, research and development center in Aulnoye-Aymeries (Nord) be maintained and strengthened” reacted Bercy after the announcement. , Wednesday evening.
An emergency meeting this Friday
Since the last restructuring of the group in 2021, the State still controls 2.3% of the capital of Vallourec via the Public Investment Bank (BPI). For the LR president of the Hauts-de-France region Xavier Bertrand, “the group’s continued policy of abandoning its industrial activities in France is not acceptable” he wrote on Twitter. He said he had obtained from the CEO “an emergency meeting” this Friday with representatives of employees, local elected officials and management.
According to the company, it was because no “credible buyer has been identified” for the German activities that their closure was announced. This “results in further rationalization of other European assets in charge of finishing rolled tubes in Germany”, added Vallourec. And in particular the closure of the “heat treatment line” of the French factory in Saint-Saulve (North).
250 removed in northern France
Of the 550 jobs cut in the rest of the world, 70 are in Scotland, affected by the stoppage of the filleting activity, the volumes of which would be repatriated to Aulnoye-Aymeries and “320 in France, including 65 at the headquarters” in Meudon ( Hauts-de-Seine), detailed CEO Philippe Guillemot, during a conference call.
Some 250 jobs will be cut in the north of France: a little less than a hundred on the Saint-Saulve site, a hundred in Aulnoye-Aymeries and the others on the shared services center in Valenciennes, said Philippe Guillemot, appointed less than two months ago to complete the restructuring of the group and make it more profitable.
The first departures could take place from the end of 2022, and be spread “over the whole of 2023, in particular in Germany”. This country will continue to produce as long as the volumes made in Germany are not transferred to Brazil, according to the CEO.
“Solutions” for some of the positions
“We are fatalists, we suspected (…) it is the closure of the site purely and simply”, reacted to the press Michaël Tison, CFDT delegate from Saint-Saulve, at the exit of the factory where the announcement was made to employees. “Vallourec had public money to make investments in Brazil or China, they are going to build factories there and it is France that is toast,” he lamented.
“We are disgusted but we expected it, for years there have been restructurings and we have seen the activity drop from year to year, it is inevitable. When I started about twenty years ago we were 1,200, 1,300, now we are 97”, reacted Frédéric Boucaut, 46 years old.
Philippe Guillemot affirmed his desire to allow “the reclassification of our collaborators in a job outside the group when that should be the case”, without however detailing the planned envelope. “We already have solutions for a third of the posts cut in France, between retirements, early retirements and internal reclassifications,” he said.
“This is a necessary and not to say vital step”, assured the CEO, according to whom these decisions must “allow the group to be profitable whatever the market conditions”. He wants to take on new outlets for the tubes produced by the group and position it “as a key player in the energy transition and a carbon-free economy”, in particular by positioning itself in “the storage of hydrogen, carbon capture, sequestration”.
The 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. euros last year over the period.
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