French labor unions on Jan. 22 said U.S.-based General Electric (GE) will cut 468 jobs at its units in France, including some staff at Alstom Power Systems (APS). GE confirmed to Agence France Press (AFP), a French news service, that talks with its unions on staff reductions are underway.
The unions said 229 jobs would be cut at APS, with some of those reductions due to retirement of senior staff. Those APS cuts will include 146 jobs at the GE Energy headquarters in Belfort, France. Union sources said 90 positions will be cut at GE Grid, and 149 jobs will be lost at GE Energy Conversion France.
The cuts are part of negotiations under a “collective mutually agreed termination” measure that was introduced in France in 2017.
A GE spokesman in Belfort told AFP the company was “reviewing its activities to be sure they are responding to marketplace realities and will allow for long-term success.” The spokesman said GE was discussing voluntary departures with APS, but would not provide details because talks—which began in December—are ongoing.
The CFDT and CFE-CGC unions at APS issued a joint statement that said the workforce reductions would have a negative impact on “the continuity of activities [and] the maintenance of skills and expertise.” The first meeting between GE and union officials occurred last week, and are continuing on a weekly basis. The unions said the first job cuts would occur in April.
GE acquired Alstom’s power and grid businesses for more than $10 billion in 2015. At the time, then-GE CEO Jeff Immelt called it a “significant step in GE’s transformation,” adding that it would “further our core industrial growth.”
The company began restructuring when John Flannery replaced Immelt as CEO in 2017. But financial markets hammered the company as Flannery defended a “deliberate” pace of change, as he spun off several of the company’s units over the course of several months. Job cuts continued at GE locations, including at its onetime home base in New York and at manufacturing plants, as the company lost market share in its gas turbine business to rivals Siemens and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems.
Flannery was ousted as CEO just more than one year after taking over, replaced by H. Lawrence Culp Jr. More changes in the company’s leadership occurred in November 2018.
—Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine).