GE’s European staff protest against US MNC’s job cut plot
At least 2,500 European employees of General Electric (GE) have protested in Paris against the US industrial conglomerate’s restructuring plans, which include 6,500 job losses throughout the continent. The demonstrators came to the French capital from throughout Europe with 700 from Germany and hundreds more from Italy, Poland, Belgium and France itself.
A large number were from French company Alstom, four months after GE acquired its power and grid businesses. Other protests took place in Germany, Spain, Austria. Belgium, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Switzerland, according to the international union federation IndustriALL.
To the sounds of whistles, klaxons and rattles, the Paris protesters brandished banners reading “Stop the massacre of jobs” and, in English, “Keep your word, stop job cuts!”
GE is most of the way through a restructuring to hone its focus on its key traditional industrial businesses, which include railway equipment and renewable energy like wind turbines, and to grow in newer sectors such as health care and energy management.
In January the company announced plans to cut up to 6,500 jobs in Europe in the energy units it acquired from Alstom last year, drawing a fierce union response and warnings from the French government. Of those job cuts 1,700 were said to be from Germany, 1,300 from Switzerland, 765 from France and 500 from both Britain and Spain. “GE has never seen this type of protest,” Laurent Santoire of the French trade union CGT said of the event in Paris.
“They don’t care about the social issues. They have great big salaries and they are destroying our jobs. We will continue our European fight, together and in solidarity, for our families, our homes... we will not give in,” said Wolfgang Lemb of the German IG-Metall union.
Last month GE asked that US regulators drop its designation as a systemically important financial institution in light of significant divestitures over the last year.