GE takeover deal set to cut thousands of European jobs

Posted on 14 Jan 2016 by Aiden Burgess

General Electric has announced that it plans to cut up to 6,500 jobs in Europe.

The US industrial giant said it plans to cut the jobs from the energy units it acquired after its €12.4bn deal to takeover the power operations of the French industrial group, Alstom in 2014.

The cuts are taking place despite GE’s pledge to create 1,000 jobs in France – part of it’s bid to win French Government support in the lead up to finalising the company’s acquisition of Alstom’s power and grid business in November 2015.

GE France spokesman, Laurent Wormser said that 756 French jobs would be lost in the company’s job cuts (mostly administrative jobs in Paris), but noted that they would be replaced with jobs in other sectors of the company’s French operations – which employs 14,000 people.

Germany is set to lose 1,735 jobs in the planned cuts, while more than 600 positions will be lost in the UK and 1,219 in Switzerland.

GE said job cuts would also occur in non-European countries as part of restructuring, a company change driven by the disarray in the energy industry due to the plunge in oil and gas prices.

A GE spokesman said the company would begin talks with French labour unions about the planned job cuts, stating that they would come through voluntary departures and retraining would be offered to those in affected positions.

The planned jobs cuts by GE have been heavily criticised by French union representatives such as one of the leaders of the CFE-CGC union, Arnaud Sejourne, who viewed the job cuts as a plan to appease stock market demands.

“We get the impression that is a stock market-inspired job cuts plan, they have to find $3bn dollars of savings and that translates into 10,000 job cuts by the end of 2017,” he said.

French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said it would monitor GE’s initial promise of job creation and its fulfilment of this pledge, in the wake of the announced job cuts.

“We will meticulously check whether job creations match the promises that were made,” he said.

“There will be compensation for every job lost in France.”

GE’s purchase of Alstom’s power and grid business was made to acquire the French company’s prized gas turbine unit. The Alstom deal expanded GE’s energy division to include 65,000 employees in more than 120 countries.

The purchase of Alstom’s power operations was part of GE’s focus on building and servicing industrial equipment, a deal GE said it expected to bring cost savings of €1.4bn.