April 12, 2011 11:12 pm

French unions criticise Renault actions

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Two French union leaders have said the steps taken by Renault do not go far enough, after the French carmaker announced the departure of several executives on Monday following a flawed probe of suspected industrial espionage at the company.

The measures will “not be enough to stabilise the group and move forwards,” said Jean-Claude Mailly, head of the Force Ouvrière union, who called on Carlos Ghosn, Renault’s chief executive, to do more, although he did not specify details.

“When you are number one, one must shoulder it,” he told BFM television on Tuesday.

The comments came after Renault announced that Patrick Pélata will step down as chief operating officer following an extraordinary board meeting on Monday, and that several junior executives and members of its internal security team are to leave the company.

Changing the people who fill roles, but not altering management techniques, “does not change anything”,” added Bernard Thibault, head of the CGT union which represents around 26 per cent of Renault’s workers.

The carmaker is hoping its actions will help draw a line under the embarrassing episode, in which it dismissed three executives it accused of receiving bribes in foreign bank accounts for information about its flagship electric car programme. Evidence against the three was later dismissed by the Paris prosecutor.

Shares in Renault were down over 3 per cent in mid-afternoon trading on Tuesday to €37.44.

Mr Mailly’s words echoed those of the head of France’s employers federation, who said she was not sure Renault’s actions went far enough.

“It seems that Renault’s board has taken measure of the gravity of the situation, but I am not sure that this will suffice,” said Laurence Parisot, head of Medef.

Ms Parisot also said she did not think that the decisions taken following the affair clarified what had happened.

While Renault said on Monday it had reached an “agreement in principle”, to compensate the three executives who were sacked in January, it remains unclear how much this will be.

The French authorities continue to investigate two men on suspicion of organised fraud, including a former member of the carmaker’s internal security team.

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