EU to consider aid if Hewlett Packard cuts jobs

21st September 2005, Comments 0 comments

BRUSSELS, Sept 21 (AFP) - The European Commission will consider ways of helping displaced workers if US computer giant Hewlett Packard goes ahead with big job cuts in Europe but has no authority to block the plan, its head Jose Manuel Barroso said Wednesday.

BRUSSELS, Sept 21 (AFP) - The European Commission will consider ways of helping displaced workers if US computer giant Hewlett Packard goes ahead with big job cuts in Europe but has no authority to block the plan, its head Jose Manuel Barroso said Wednesday.

"We will analyse the situation with the French authorities and see whether within our existing funds we can find aid if it (the restructuring) does take place," the head of the European Union's executive arm told a news conference.

However, it was "not within the power of the commission to prevent companies from dismissing members of its workforce," he said.

The US company's plans to cut about 6,000 jobs in Europe, including 1,240 in France, by 2008, have been seized on as a further example of big multinational firms slashing jobs to move to lower cost regions outside of Europe.

Barroso, who was making a speech on the EU's role in the face of globalisation, said he had received a formal request from the French government for the commission to analyse the situation.

French president Jacques Chirac had appealed Tuesday to the European Commission after US computer group Hewlett Packard's decision to cut up to 6,000 jobs across the continent, a presidential spokesman said.

The president also called on the government to ensure the company fulfilled its obligations to employees under French law.

Hewlett Packard said on September 12 it would cut 1,240 jobs in France, about a quarter of its workforce there, by 2008 but would try to do it through voluntary lay-offs to avoid the costs of direct redundancies.

Separately, union sources told AFP that the company planned to slash 5,969 jobs overall in Europe in the same period and said workers in France would be called on to strike.

California-based Hewlett Packard employs 45,000 people in Europe, half of them in Germany, Britain and France. The HP France workforce numbers 4,800.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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