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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 12 March, 2003, 17:40 GMT
Jobs to go as Alstom cuts back
Alstom train
Alstom is a major player in the transport market
Thousands of UK jobs are set to go at French heavy engineering giant Alstom.

The firm, which merged with former industrial powerhouse GEC five years ago, is under pressure to stem heavy losses and cut costs.

Workers are expected to find out shortly where the jobs axe will fall.

The move is a further blow for the job market following Tuesday's news that Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus may cut 3,000 posts in the UK.

Desperate move?

Shares in Alstom slumped 50% on the Paris market, following the announcement.

Traders were alarmed by Alstom's plan to sell off its profitable transmission and distribution business to raise much-needed cash.

We take no pleasure in the fact that we said this would happen at Alstom five years ago
Roger Jeary, Amicus

It also said it would issue new stock and step up its existing cost reduction plan to achieve annual savings of 500 million euros (340m) within two years.

The company also announced the early departure of its chief executive.

But analysts said the measures appeared desperate.

One London-based analyst told Reuters: "The stock market has obviously decided the chances of Alstom pulling back from the brink have decreased enormously."

'No surprise'

Alstom has been plagued by technical faults with its gas turbines and the bankruptcy of a major shipping client.

It has also been hit by a slump in demand for its products.

An Alstom spokesman told BBC News Online further job cuts "would not come as a surprise" to workers in the UK.

"The power market has fallen by more than 50% in a single year," he added.

Alstom employs 13,000 people in the UK at its main sites in Rugby, Stafford, Lincoln, Birmingham and Manchester.

The company makes trains and heavy industrial equipment for the energy market.

Roger Jeary, national officer at the union Amicus, said: "We take no pleasure in the fact that we said this would happen at Alstom five years ago.

"We believe the company's UK interests in energy, transmission and distribution and transport, acquired by the French company five years ago, was bought with the intention of securing its market share and running down UK competition."

The union is calling on the government to make it as difficult to make workers redundant in the UK as it is in France.

Corus to close steel plants
11 Mar 03 |  Business

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