The railway manufacturer Alstom did not see, until recently, “no structural” for its site in Belfort, due to a shortage of orders from the public sector, explained Tuesday Henri Poupart-Lafarge, CEO of the group, auditioned at the National Assembly. “I do not know today what will be the nature of the plan that will be implemented by the government in the coming days”, said Henri Poupart-Lafarge before the economic affairs commission of the lower chamber.
“today”, on the side of Alstom, “we see no end structural” in the production of trains on this site, he added. Later the group said in an update to the Agence France-Presse that his CEO had talked to the imperfect. And that “pending the outcome of the discussions and reflections that have occurred since then, Alstom remains open to all type of proposals favourable to the site of Belfort”. “We are not in the process of negotiating with the State,” said the boss of the railway builder, in front of the deputies, in response to accusations of “machiavélisme” and “blackmail” to the employment which he felt to be the target.
The State is working with the management of the group, solutions to “make the site of Belfort perennial”, he explained. According to the group, the reduced activity of the rail freight in France, and “the historically low level” commands TGV affecting more severely the plant of Belfort as its other production sites in France. Thus, only a score of locomotives and motor of the TGV will come out of the factory the franche-comte region this year, up from 140 in 2008.
“customers are asking for the location on the spot”
Henri Poupart-Lafarge has ruled out the possibility of obliging the SNCF or the RATP to place new orders in order to deliver sustainable activity. “I’m too aware of the difficulty of railway transport in France, to go to force commands to trains that would rust away in cupboards,” he said. If Alstom has been able to maintain an industrial activity in Belfort for the past ten years, it is “thanks to the efforts of the group to promote the export”,-he said.
Nevertheless, this performance is not always possible to maintain the pace of production in French factories. “Customers are asking for the location on the spot”, while the large orders from Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Russia or India do not permit us to produce, “a few locomotives” Belfort said Henri Poupart-Lafarge. Far from calling into question the project of stopping the production of trains of the plant in Belfort, the CEO stressed on the contrary that it would strengthen other sites that have also been “reductions of charges”, in particular Reichshoffen in the Alsace region towards which the activity belfortaine must be transferred. “There’s this lack of perspective in Belfort, look to consolidate Reichshoffen, giving multiple perspectives”, he advanced.
too much “dispersion” of the group
With 12 production sites “in France”, he regretted too much “dispersion” of the group in France, which grows to a specialization of each site “difficult to manage”, especially in a period of lower activity. Questioned on the assumption of a recovery of certain employees by General Electric, which bought the end of 2015 the energy of Alstom, including a site in Belfort, Mr Poupart-Lafarge said that there was “no discussion” at this point.
The leader also denied any association with the transport branch of Thales, recalling that “their signaling activity is not for sale”, contrary to what the former Industry minister, Arnaud Montebourg, said Monday in a letter to the current minister of Economy, Michel Sapin. The boss of Alstom was interviewed by the mps, whilst several hundred employees of the factory Alsthom of Belfort, but also other sites of the railway builder protested Tuesday outside the headquarters of the group in Saint-Ouen to say “no to the closure” of the site franche-comte.