Carmaker Renault announced plans late on Tuesday to slash 7,500 jobs in France by 2016 to help to "boost competitiveness."
The job cuts are equivalent to 14 per cent of Renault's French staff at a time when the jobless rate has reached a 13-year high in the nation.
Renault is pushing workers to accept pay and conditions cuts to align productivity with cheaper European sites such as its Palencia plant in Spain and partner Nissan's Sunderland factory in England.
A Renault spokeswoman claimed following meetings with unions the company estimated that about three-quarters of the cuts will be achieved through normal staff turnover.
CGT union representative Fabien Gache said the job cuts would rise to 8,200 or 15 per cent of French staff over the next four years.
"This is a fresh bloodletting among staff which will weaken Renault further over the coming years," he said.
Carmakers across Europe are cutting costs and capacity so they can still turn a profit while the eurozone debt crisis and austerity measures sap consumer demand.
Meanwhile, the CGT union said today that 300 workers at the threatened Peugeot Citroen works at Aulnay had shut down production and occupied the factory.
The union said they had been able to "paralyse" the plant.
Peugeot Citroen announced last year that it was scrapping more than 10,000 domestic jobs and closing the plant.
The government then found a company to take over the factory with a reduced workforce and offered Peugeot a €7 billion (£5.8bn) loan.
Peugeot and trade unions are still in talks over the deal.
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