Alcatel-Lucent is stuffed unless it can restructure

As French Alcatel-Lucent staff march on the company Bastille to complain about job cuts, the company boss has warned that the telecoms company could go under.

Alcatel-Lucent has been in the red since 2006 and missed some key technological shifts, its chief executive Michel Combes said.

He wants to slash 10,000 jobs worldwide, including 900 in France, and said that the cuts were Alcatel-Lucent’s last chance to stem years of losses and turn the company around.

Otherwise, he warned, the company could disappear.

Reuters reported how Combes told French lawmakers his plan differed from previous attempts to overhaul Alcatel since 2006 and he pledged to find new jobs for all 900 workers facing layoffs in France.

He said that the company did have a coherent and complete plan which will fix all the problems the company is facing and get it back on its feet.

More than 1,500 Alcatel-Lucent workers marched in Paris on Tuesday to protest against the plan, which involves closing several sites including the Orvault plant in northern France.

The Socialist government has pressed Alcatel-Lucent to limit job cuts and CFDT union leader Herve Lassale said workers would try to extract concessions from Combes.

The government which wants to end years of de-industrialisation and high unemployment, has warned it could use new labour rules to block the plan.

But Combes told lawmakers the firm had little choice but to cut operating costs and consolidate resources around fewer sites  after losing $1.08 billion per year since its merger with US firm Lucent Technologies in 2006.

He said that his plan sets targets that are key to the survival of the company.

Combes took over Alcatel-Lucent in April after being CEO of Vodafone Europe from 2008 to 2012. He abandoned a plan by predecessor Ben Verwaayen that aimed to shut down Alcatel-Lucent’s activities in France.