Report: Bouygues Telecom could reduce job cuts by 112

Bouygues Telecom is reportedly set to reduce the planned number of layoffs by 112 people to 1,404 in total after discussions with employee representatives convinced the company's management that some positions should be saved.

According to a report in French daily Les Echos, the central works council (comité central d'entreprise or CCE) will reconvene on Wednesday afternoon to endorse the plan to save jobs. This follows the completion of talks that took place over the summer.

According to Les Echos, the cuts will only affect departments such as IT, networks, marketing and support; the 4,500 people employed in customer-facing roles at call centres and in Bouygues Telecom shops are not expected to be affected by the cuts. Around 50 jobs have been saved in the IT department, 20 in networks and the remainder in marketing and support.

The company management is also expected to present the new organisation of the group during the meeting.

Bouygues Telecom said in June that it planned to cut 1,516 jobs after the failure of talks to merge with SFR, which is now in the process of being acquired by Altice-owned Numericable. The cuts are part of a broader transformation plan to help the operator survive in a market with four mobile players.

Despite the concessions gained so far, the three unions involved in the talks remain on high alert: they are concerned about the future working conditions for the remaining staff.

Following the CCE consultation, the revised plan will be sent to DIRECCTE, which is responsible for labour administration issues. A response should be provided after three weeks. The first departures on the basis of voluntary redundancies will start mid-November. Compulsory redundancies will then start in the middle of January.

Meanwhile a separate report from Le Figaro suggests that some clouds are also gathering over the merger process for SFR and Numericable, which are set to combine to form France's second-largest telecoms operator.

As things stand, the French competition commission is expected to make its decision by the end of October and the merger could then be sealed by the end of November.

However, there are some sensitive issues still to be resolved, such as the future role of Vivendi: the media group will still own 20 per cent of the new operator but it is also the owner of Numericable pay-TV rival Canal +. Le Figaro quoted unnamed sources as saying that Vivendi has already put pressure on SFR to refrain from signing a distribution deal with Netflix. The U.S.-based streaming video company has now signed an exclusive deal for France with Bouygues Telecom.

Nonetheless, Le Figaro also pointed out Numericable has launched its own service, LaBox Series, to compete with Netflix in future.

Employment at the future merged company also remains a cause for concern among employee representatives. While Altice founder and owner Patrick Drahi has committed to making no redundancies for a period of 36 months, there are concerns that service providers ("prestataires") could be affected as the group seeks to make savings.

For more:
- see this Les Echos article (in French)
- see this Le Figaro article (in French)

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Orange, Bouygues pour cold water on consolidation hopes in France
France rolls up its sleeves to avert planned Bouygues job cuts

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