This file picture taken on May 25, 2010 in Douai, northern France, shows employees working at a production line of French carmaker Renault factory. -AFP Photo

PARIS: The French auto industry was hit again on Tuesday when Renault said that it planned to cut its staff in the country by 7,500 workers by 2016 to become more competitive and prepare for the hiring of others with specific skills.

The company said that it would shed 5,700 jobs through natural attrition, with the balance coming from the extension of an early retirement programme to all employees due to retire in three year's time, subject to an agreement with unions.

“If an agreement is signed with unions, this staff redeployment would require neither a plant closure nor a voluntary redundancy programme,” said Gerard Leclercq, head of Renault's French operations.

Renault's French workforce currently stands at 44,642, making the job cuts equivalent to a 17 per cent reduction in staff numbers.

The cuts would save the automaker around 400 million euros ($534 million) in fixed costs, giving it “room for investment and to develop its activities,” the statement said.

The company added that a “staff redeployment” would allow it to then “make recruitments based on critical skills,” without saying how many workers might be hired, nor the kind of skills needed.

“On the basis of a progressive recovery of the European market, establishing such an agreement would allow for growth in French output that is more sustained than that of the European market” as a whole, the company forecast.

It has already reached a similar deal with workers in Spain, adjusting working conditions and pay in exchange for maintaining jobs, a trend established several years ago in Germany and which it catching on elsewhere in Europe.

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