PEUGEOT Citroën - the No1 French car-maker - is to cut 8,000 jobs and close its factory at Aulnay-sous-Bois in 2014.
More than 3,000 jobs will go at Aulnay, 1,400 from its factory at Rennes in Brittany and another 3,600 from various administrative, research and commercial functions. It is feared this could include 1,400 jobs in research and development of new models.
Social Affairs Minister Marisol Touraine said the government would be looking closely at the private company's figures. "We cannot accept something like this." She added that the firm had received e4billion in state aid in the past few years.
Work Minister Arnaud Montebourg said before the announcement it was a "shock for the nation".
Union leader Bernard Thibault of the CGT said on France Inter the union planned to take action, and added: "Once Peugeot announces the cutting of 8,000 to 10,000 jobs you can triple or quadruple that number to gauge the real impact in terms of jobs in the rest of the country."
Peugeot Citroën says it is working to find alternatives for each Aulnay worker. Up to 1,500 could find different jobs at the factory at Poissy and a similar number, it said, could find new work in the Aulnay area. The site, which has been open since 1973, hosts the company's unofficial museum.
As for Rennes, the company did not have any firm numbers but talked about a "redeployment of staff". The factory employs 5,600.
The cuts were announced this morning at a meeting of PSA Peugeot-Citroën's central works committee. They were blamed on a 15% slump in car sales across Europe in the first three months of the year which caused operational losses of €700million in the automobile division. The division lost €92m in 2011.
It is 20 years since the last major car factory closure in France: Renault shutting its Billancourt plant.
Photo: PSA PEUGEOT CITROËN