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French nuclear group Areva to cut up to 6,000 jobs worldwide

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French nuclear group Areva, which incurred massive losses last year, announced Thursday it would cut up to 6,000 jobs worldwide as it seeks to slash its costs by a billion euros by 2017.

[PARIS] French nuclear group Areva, which incurred massive losses last year, announced Thursday it would cut up to 6,000 jobs worldwide as it seeks to slash its costs by a billion euros by 2017.

The number of job cuts will be between 5,000 and 6,000 worldwide, said the group's human resources director Francois Nogue.

Between 3,000 and 4,000 of the job losses will be in France.

Areva had earlier said it planned to reduce its labour costs by around 15 per cent in France and 18 per cent internationally.

The group's labour costs currently come to between 3.5 billion and 4.0 billion euros - an unsustainable level given that revenues are only about twice that, said Nogue.

"It is urgent to take the necessary measures to adapt the costs of our business to the reality of its markets," said chief executive officer Philippe Knoche in the statement.

The group currently employs around 45,000 people, including some 30,000 in France.

In March, the French nuclear group confirmed record net losses in 2014 of 4.8 billion euros (US$5.3 billion) after it was forced to absorb costs linked to delays to its flagship next-generation EPR reactor.

The mostly state-owned company, which had forecast losses of 4.9 billion euros, said it would make savings worth around one billion euros over the next few years.

It said the precise numbers of job cuts would be finalised after talks with unions.

The troubled company has already made reductions to its profit-sharing programme and other incentives, and had already announced 1,500 job cuts from its German operations, where around 5,000 people are employed.

In the latest planned job cuts France would be the hardest hit, with between 4,000 and 5,000 workers affected.

Management met Thursday with union representatives to launch negotiations.

The CGT trade union accused the state of neglecting the nuclear industry.

"The state decided to scupper the nuclear sector, to satisfy financial and competitiveness reasons to the detriment of industrial policy," the union said in a statement.

Areva has suffered particularly in recent years after interest in nuclear power cooled following the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.

AFP