France to close schools to curb coronavirus spread

UNTV News   •   March 13, 2020   •   710

Starting next week, France will close all creches, schools and universities to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus, President Emmanuel Macron said in a televised address on Thursday (March 12).

Describing the outbreak as France’s biggest public health crisis in a century, Macron also urged employers to let staff work from home, and said that the elderly and people with health conditions should stay indoors.

He said, however, that municipal elections scheduled for this weekend should go ahead.

He said that to ease the economic impact, the state would take over paying salaries of people forced to stop work, and that businesses would not have to pay taxes that fall due in March.

On the European level, he said the latest measures to support the economy unveiled by the European Central Bank were not sufficient, and that he would work with European partners on a major package to relaunch the economy “whatever it costs.”

In a veiled reference to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to suspend some travel to the United States, Macron said nationalism was not the answer to the virus.

He said the disease has no nationality, and that if national frontiers had to be closed, it would only be when it was essential, and in coordination with the rest of Europe. (Reuters)

(Production: Ardee Napolitano)

Nokia workers protest against planned job cuts in Paris

UNTV News   •   July 9, 2020

Several hundred Nokia workers protested in Paris on Wednesday (July 8) against plans to cut over 1,200 jobs in its French subsidiary Alcatel-Lucent International.

Nokia has said most of the layoffs would come from research and development (R&D) teams. Unions say this is incomprehensible when Europe is preparing to deploy the next generation mobile network.

Member of the French parliament from the ruling party LaRem, Eric Bothorel, who was elected in the northwestern region of Côtes-d’Armor, where there are planned job cuts, said Nokia’s announcement came just after the date set releasing the company from commitments to preserve jobs.

Nokia was bound to job retention commitments when it acquired Alcatel Lucent in 2015. They expired in June.

Bothorel said the move was “making fun of the government” as it targeted people who were recently hired.

Nokia says it will continue to be a major employer in France with a strong foothold in R&D. (Reuters)

(Production: Emilie Delwarde, Thierry Chiarello, Yiming Woo, Ardee Napolitano)

French finance minister: working from home is not panacea for virus

UNTV News   •   June 15, 2020

Working from home is still a preferred option but is not the panacea for dealing with the problems caused by the coronavirus, French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday (June 15), as France looks to speed up the re-opening of its economy.

“Working from home remains preferable, in the sense that it allows us to have a gradual return and can limit the circulation of the virus. But I’ve always considered that working from home was not the panacea,” Le Maire told France Info radio.

Even though many of France’s shops and restaurants have started to re-open, the major business districts of Paris remain empty as many employees are still working from home.

Le Maire also added that the state has begun to reduce its aid in covering partial unemployment benefits, to prompt companies to restart their activities. During the confinement period, the state covered 84 to 100 percent of salaries of furloughed employees.

He said working employees must be able to keep their purchasing power, to fuel consumption. (Reuters)

(Production: Michaela Cabrera)

Renault closes site, restructures factories in France in bid to slash costs

UNTV News   •   May 29, 2020

PART MUST ON-SCREEN COURTESY RENAULT.

Renault said on Friday (May 29) it was launching talks with unions to restructure several French car plants, as it confirmed plans to cut around 15,000 jobs worldwide and the closure of one France plant.

Faced with a slump in demand that has been exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis, Renault is aiming to find 2 billion euros ($2.22 billion) in savings over the next three years as it shrinks production and hones in on key car models.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Interim Chief Executive Clotilde Delbos said 4,600 jobs in France are in peril of being cut.

Renault Group Board of Directors Chair Jean-Dominique Senard hailed the cost-reduction plan to be both “defensive” and “offensive,” as he announced the closure of the Choisy-le-Roi factory, which manufactures motors, the sole plant to halt activity out of Renault’s 14 plant sites.

Senard said though that the Caudan site in Brittany, which was also threatened of closing will maintain operations, adding that Renault is working with the regional government to think about the future of the plant. (Reuters)

(Production: Ardee Napolitano)

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