“It is the whole local economy, the school, the public services, which will be impacted”, despairs Paul Le Bihan. For the elected official of Côtes-d’Armor, the job cuts have no industrial justification.
“It’s really a betrayal”reacted Wednesday July 8 on franceinfo Paul Le Bihan, PS mayor of Lannion, in the Côtes-d’Armor, while several thousand Nokia employees, many of whom came from the Breton city, marched in Paris against the 1,233 jobs cut in France, including more than 400 at the Lannion research center.
franceinfo: Do you share the feeling of betrayal, disgust, of the employees who demonstrated today?
Paul Le Bihan: Absolutely. It is a feeling of betrayal, of cynicism of a company that has made commitments and which, barely the past date, sits on its commitments. It is truly a betrayal. It was believed, all, the employees of course, but the local communities too, when we met the leaders of Nokia, no later than two years ago, for the inauguration of the site.
Has there been any aid from the State, the region or the municipality for this brand new research center?
Nokia benefits from the research tax credit, which finances 30% of the wage bill. The urban community had bought half of the Lannion site, so that they could reorganize the site and have brand new buildings. So it was still an important commitment of the urban community. And there we were told, hand on heart, Lannion is an important site for Nokia and will remain so. Today we realize that all this was just words.
How does Nokia justify the job cuts?
It has absolutely nothing to do with the health crisis, things have to be clear. On the contrary, during the period of the health crisis, Nokia employees continued to telecommute, and it went very well. They even got congratulations from their management as recently as three or four weeks ago. And there, fifteen days later, they were told “there is a social plan”.
They did not suffer from the Covid crisis, however there is a strategy that escapes us a little.at franceinfo
Nokia bought Alcatel-Lucent: was it to have the markets, the patents? They are going to fire young engineers whom they recently hired. Some are still on trial and risk being dismissed, to hire in Canada or Finland, or in countries that are not said to be “low-cost”. There is a strategy which is curious. Nokia may not be performing well compared to other telecom companies, but it is not in financial difficulty.
So there is, in your eyes, no industrial justification?
Industrially, there is none. Financially, there may be a few, but we would have to explain it to us, because Nokia still has cash. The strategy is incomprehensible. I had the site manager when the plan was announced.
We knew there was going to be a plan announcement, but not at that height, because this is half the site.at franceinfo
We thought that there would be, as in previous years, plans concerning 40, 50, 60, 70 employees, and there there is a way to negotiate to lower this figure. But there 402 out of 772, 40 or 50 jobs saved, that would not change much in the deal, because it is the survival of the Lannion site that is directly at stake.
What do these city-wide job cuts represent like Lannion?
It is the city’s third employer, behind the hospital and Orange. With the spouses, the restoration that takes place on site, the maintenance of the site, that’s a lot of jobs involved. In a city of 20,000 inhabitants, it’s huge. It is different from the previous social plans, where often it was measures of age, so people at the end of their career. We also have the technopole which is growing and which could absorb a few dozen jobs. There it is difficult to see the technopole could absorb 400 jobs, or even more if the site is really threatened. These are young people who are going to leave, young people who have barely been trained or whom Nokia is currently training in new technologies such as 5G, cybersecurity, cyber defense. People who are going to leave, who will not stay there. The whole local economy, school, public services, will be impacted.