Managers at French food group Danone are coming under intense pressure from employees disgruntled over the company’s restructuring plans for its biscuit arm. Trade unions said that around a thousand protestors demonstrated at the Paris headquarters and the Ministry of Labour, although police put the number at 650. Restructuring of the €600m Lu France biscuit division, which employs 4000 staff, is due to be announced by April 15. A leaked memo in January suggested that the group will close ten factories with the loss of 3000 jobs in total and 1700 in France. It also suggested that management knew exactly where the axe will fall, although this is hotly disputed.
Trade unions have taken an active involvement in the case. Marcel Pochet, a trade union official speaking at the demonstration in Paris, commented that “Danone has enormous financial muscle […] Take one example. To buy Quaker Oats, Danone was prepared to lay out US$14bn. That’s more than a century’s worth of salaries for the biscuit division in France. This is a complete scandal.”
The main bone of contention advance by angry employees is that the factories under threat are profitable. They feel Danone, which boasts a forward-looking and ethical attitude to employees yet is allegedly considering closing profitable factories, is showing a cavalier attitude which does fit with its image.
To read our story about the leaked memo, click here.