American industrial group General Electric (GE) said Tuesday it would cut 1,044 jobs in France, mainly at a gas turbine operation in the east of the country, as part of a wave of European layoffs.
The job losses, long feared by unions, could become a political challenge for President Emmanuel Macron, who promised this month that the French government would follow the matter with “the utmost vigilance”.
The company said most cuts will happen in Belfort in eastern France, site of the European headquarters for GE Energy, as well as Boulogne-Billancourt in the Paris region.
Belfort officials said the losses would be a “new hardship” for the region, which has been hit be the decline of mining and heavy industry in recent decades.
“More than half the number of employees in the gas activities… are going to lose their jobs,” said Belfort mayor Damien Meslot and other officials in a statement.
GE employs nearly 4,000 people in Belfort, including 1,900 in gas turbine operations.
The company has struggled for years with lagging demand due to low oil and gas prices. Power operations were a key factor in annual losses of 22.8 billion US dollars (about 20.4 billion euros) last year.
The company announced 6,500 job cuts across Europe in 2015. Two years later, it revealed a further 12,000 job losses.
That decision prompted France to fine the company 50 billion euros this year, since GE promised to create at least 1,000 new jobs when it announced the purchase of the power businesses from France's Alstom in 2014.