PARIS – The productivity concessions that French car maker Renault is seeking at its domestic plants are "reasonable", Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg said in a newspaper interview on Friday.
"I prefer reasonable efforts, rather than bankruptcies and plant closures," Montebourg, who has previously been a hardliner against layoff plans, told regional daily La Voix du Nord.
Renault is cutting 7,500 jobs over three years without compulsory redundancies and is demanding union concessions on pay, flexibility and working hours in return for guarantees to keep French plants open.
The company has told unions it could produce an extra 80,000 vehicles a year at its domestic factories for partners Nissan <7201.T> or Daimler
That would represent 15 percent of Renault's 2012 French production.
Montebourg also said that Renault should start reinvesting in France and that the government will be "inflexible" on this front.
France's car manufacturing woes are not restricted to Renault. Rival PSA Peugeot Citroen is struggling to reverse mounting losses by scrapping more than 10,000 domestic jobs and closing an assembly plant near Paris.
(Reporting by Pierre Savary; Writing by Elena Berton; Editing by Christian Plumb and David Goodman)