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But the European Commission’s veto last week has raised doubts about the president’s industrial strategy as he battles to quell unrest over inequality and a perception he is indifferent to the struggles of France’s working class. The workers’ disdain for Macron’s industrial plan reflects a broader lower-class anger at the former investment banker’s reforms designed to liberalize and invigorate France’s heavily regulated economy. Violent “yellow vest” anti-government protests have convulsed France for the past three months and raised questions over whether the man dubbed the “president of the rich” by left-wingers can make France more competitive.

“The order books are apparently pretty full, Management tells us we’re covered for the next four or five years,” Gemino, who joined Alstom as a teenage apprentice, stainless steel gold tartan plaid cufflinks said as he passed through the plant’s turnstile, “The future isn’t so bleak.”, Alstom and Siemens wanted to merge their train manufacturing businesses to compete more effectively against China’s state-owned CRRC, the world’s biggest trainmaker, at a time rail companies globally are looking to consolidate and reduce costs through economies of scale..

Alstom’s unions say the company, with booked orders of 40 billion euros ($45 billion), is strong enough to survive alone and they would prefer to take on China without German help. “There will always be a risk, but Alstom and Siemens are capable of looking after themselves, on their own, and of pushing back against China,” said Olivier Kohler, an Alstom employee and member of the moderate CFDT union, France’s largest. “Even if there was a merger, their prices would still be lower.”.

Asked if Alstom could compete globally alone, an official in Macron’s office said: “In the short term, yes, It’s making stainless steel gold tartan plaid cufflinks money, The problem is the long term,” they said, SHORT-TERM WIN, At the foot of Belfort’s imposing citadel stands a giant statue of a lion carved out of red sandstone, symbolizing the town’s resistance against German forces during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, Nowadays, it’s Alstom’s fate in the face of foreign competition that weighs heavily on the collective psyche of Belfort, a town of 50,000 near Germany and Switzerland where the iconic high-speed TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse) is made..

“Alstom is part of the town’s identity,” said retired SNCF railworker Georges Pagnoncelle. “But French industrial groups keep on being bought by foreign firms, and jobs keep disappearing from France.”. Alstom’s unions were worried that a merger with Siemens would lead to the bleeding of jobs in France, but acknowledged the European Commission’s veto was only a short-term reprieve. The threat from China and trainmakers in other emerging economies such as South Korea will persist and future alliances cannot be ruled out. Frustrated by the rejection of the Siemens-Alstom deal, Paris and Berlin now want to loosen European competition rules to take a more global view.

Unionized managers at Belfort said they understood why the French government might want to merge Alstom with Siemens, but maintained that any such move must be on a 50-50 footing, protect jobs and fit into a clearer long-term strategy, Under the terms of the proposal, the German conglomerate would have taken a stake of 50 percent plus a few shares in Alstom with an undertaking not to stainless steel gold tartan plaid cufflinks boost its holding above 50.5 percent in the first four years, Alstom workers said Siemens would have been left in the driving seat..

“We need a political vision for French industry,” said Andre Fages of the CFE-CGC union that represents management, stressing the need for investment in research and development. “Our politicians say France needs a strong rail industry. But when they want to buy trains, they want them at Chinese prices.”. Alstom was Belfort’s biggest employer until 2014 when it sold its turbine manufacturing business to U.S. company General Electric. Two years later, the then-Socialist government threw a lifeline 630-million-euro order for TGVs it did not yet need to stop Alstom shutting down the Belfort production line.

In a reflection of France’s industrial decline, Alstom’s TGV plant is now surrounded by towering structures bearing General Electric’s logo, Across a rail track stand rows of violet-shuttered terraced dwellings that once housed Alstom workers, The town’s mayor, Damien Meslot, said the trainmaker now employed just 480 workers in Belfort, one of a dozen Alstom sites across France, General Electric, which France fined last week for stainless steel gold tartan plaid cufflinks reneging on a commitment to create 1,000 jobs, has some 4,000 staff in Belfort..

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