Renault aims to cut 7,500 posts in France by 2016

Renault wants to cut 7,500 posts in France by 2016 to help boost competitiveness as its domestic and European markets continue to slump, a spokeswoman for the French carmaker said.

The cuts, equivalent to 14 percent of French Renault staff, are expected to include 5,700 departures through natural turnover, the spokeswoman said on Tuesday, following the latest in a series of meetings with unions.

The carmaker is pushing workers to accept a new nationwide deal on pay and conditions to cut costs and align productivity with cheaper European sites such as its Palencia plant in Spain and Nissan's Sunderland factory in England.

Renault group had some 128,000 employees worldwide as of the end of 2011, according to its website.

Union representatives were not immediately reachable for comment.

Automakers are facing a sustained decline in the European car market as the euro zone debt crisis and government austerity measures sap consumer demand. Car sales in France, Spain and Italy in 2012 fell to the lowest levels in years.

Rival PSA Peugeot Citroen has already sold assets including its Gefco logistics arm and leased-back Paris headquarters as it struggles to reverse mounting losses by scrapping more than 10,000 domestic jobs and an assembly plant near the French capital.

Japanese carmaker Honda <7267.T> on Friday unveiled plans to cut around 800 jobs at its plant near Swindon in southwest England due to falling demand for its vehicles across mainland Europe.

French car registrations fell 15 percent last month, leaving the full-year down 14 percent to 1.9 million vehicles - the lowest since 1997 - French industry group CCFA said. Renault group's French registrations plunged 27 percent in December.

The news of job cuts will be a further blow to French President Francois Hollande, who has made creating jobs his priority for this year as the jobless rate reaches 13-year highs.

(Reporting by Gilles Guillaume; Editing by Christian Plumb)