France Telecom slashes employee recruitment plans, angers unions

France Telecom (FT) said it will hire only 4,000 new employees between 2013 and 2015, down from the 10,000 staff it recruited over the past two years. 

The announcement triggered an angry response from the CFDT union, which claimed that the 4,000 jobs would not even cover the expected attrition within the company, and criticised advertisements FT made for the new positions, according to Les Echos

FT said it will open negotiations with the unions to extend its policy regarding older workers--which has already allowed 7,000 employees to either work part time or take early retirement, according to Dow Jones Newswires. FT said the measure will allow the company "to adapt to a difficult financial context."

Prior to meeting the unions, FT CEO Stephane Richard said there will now be a new employment policy for the group for the period 2013 to 2015. "Despite a difficult economic environment, which has resulted in a decrease in sales and the Group's profits margins, especially related to the arrival of the fourth mobile operator [Free Mobile], we will hire 5,000 younger people on one-year work placement contracts," he told La Tribune.

In an opening shot, the CFDT union said that employees leaving the company could exceed 30,000 by 2020, and warned that FT pursuing an employment policy that will leave workers without the knowledge and skills that could be vital in the current economic and social climate.

Separately, FT appears to have confused financial analysts who are rating the company from "hold" to "underperform." Kepler Capital Markets issued a hold rating to clients, with a €10 price target on the shares (currently trading at €9.353).

Meanwhile, analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein reiterated an underperform rating on shares with a target of €8.39, a view shared by analysts at CA Cheuvreux, but targeting FT shares as high as €10.95, according to Daily Political.

For more:
- see the France Telecom release
- see this Les Echos article (translated via Google Translate)
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article
- see this La Tribune article (translated via Google Translate)
- see this Daily Political article

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