- The Latécoère group plans to relocate to the Czech Republic and Mexico, the industrial activity of its Toulouse plant in Montredon, which opened just six years ago. Some 150 employees in total are involved in this global reorganization project.
- Politicians of all stripes are rising up and reviving the debate on public aid granted to help industrial establishments.
In Toulouse, when the aeronautical equipment manufacturer Latécoère falters, the excitement is proportional to the prestige of its name, forever linked to the pioneers of aviation. A complicated new chapter in this centuries-old history opened on 25 January, when the group, now owned by the American fund Searlihgt Capital Partners, presented to its works council its "projection towards the future" for its Montredon plant. A "factory of the future" inaugurated just six years ago on the heights of the Pink City.
But the terminology is now poorly chosen since according to the plans of the management it will no longer house any industrial jobs at the end of 2024. The machines, on which 110 people work, will leave for Prague in the Czech Republic and Hermossillo in Mexico. The brand new Montredon site will not close. Latécoère will combine its service activities and those with "high added value". But by a domino game, the group will close its site in Labège, a few kilometers away, and its Colomiers site. The CGT speaks of a "disguised social plan", impacting between Montredon and Labège "150 colleagues". The plan "aims to change the nature of Toulouse-Montredon's activities so that the site returns to profitability and ensures its long-term sustainability," argues the management.
The group – which employs 4,700 people worldwide, including 1,385 in France – evokes "a reorganization" made necessary by the economic situation: during the Covid crisis, the equipment manufacturer saw its turnover drop by half and the technical difficulties of the Boeing 787, for which Latécoère manufactures the boarding gates, have not dissipated. Management promises that affected blue-collar workers will be reclassified internally and insists that social negotiations are still in their infancy.
Aid for research
But the symbol of a factory without workers and its machines relocated to low-cost countries has already produced its effects. "I hear that there are plans [for relocation], I would like to be explained," said "surprised" Friday on the antenna of Sud Radio Roland Lescure, the Minister of Industry. Especially since the State has subsidized the Montredon plant to the tune of 5.4 million euros as part of the aeronautical component of the "strategic" program called "Factory of the Future".
Also Friday, the opposition group "Metropolis ecologist, solidarity and citizen" also attacked on the subject of public aid speaking of "1.7 million European funds provided by the Occitanie region" and the land "which belonged to the municipality, ceded at a symbolic price" Same arguments this Thursday for the six LFI deputies of Haute-Garonne who denounce "the relocation policies of large groups, in defiance of the public funding received to set up or maintain the activity".
Carole Delga (PS), the president of Occitanie, shares the diagnosis. It is indignant at the projects of the new owners "of this symbol of Toulouse aeronautics and flagship of French industry" which go "against the policy of industrial sovereignty that our country must build". The Region, on the other hand, denies the figures. No European funds financed the Montredon plant through it. Only a sum of 786,000 euros was paid for a research project of Latécoère "whose dedicated teams will remain in Toulouse". And as the project is stopped, the remaining 3.9 million euros of the planned global grant will not be paid.
Land at an "incentive" price
The mayor of Toulouse Jean-Luc Moudenc (ex-LR) is preparing to meet the leaders of Latécoère to ask them for "guarantees" for the employees concerned, if they intend to sell the Montredon site in the long term and more generally to question them about their industrial project in the Pink City. "The community can only deplore the decision to manufacture abroad what has been produced on our territory. This is yet another example of a decline in our sovereignty," his entourage said. And if Latécoère affirms that "neither" of the departing machines has been directly subsidized, the Toulouse mayor is quite legitimate to ask for explanations. Because, yes, "while Latécoère threatened to leave the territory, for lack of land", the city of Toulouse sold him the land of "3 hectares" of Montredon for "1.3 million euros". "An incentive price that meets the territory's employment challenges," says the Capitol. Which, obviously, have just evolved in the wrong direction.
Toulouse: Latécoère relocates to Mexico and Czechia, the government awaits explanations
Toulouse: The aeronautical equipment manufacturer Latécoère passes under the American flag
- Carole Delga
- Jean-Luc Moudenc