As European automakers begin to close their plants thousands of people will lose their jobs, including many immigrants.
The French government has approved Peugeot’s decision to close the Aulnay plant, and so leaving 3,000 people without a job. This might be the only solution to help Europe’s second-largest automaker survive through the economic crisis. Last year other European automakers announced five factory shutdowns and over 30,000 job cuts, as the auto market in Europe faced the biggest drop in the past two decades. Analysts predict sales on the continent will drop in 2013 for the sixth straight year.
The plant closures in France will have a far-reaching impact on the immigrant community that is already marginalized. In 2011 unemployment among the North African community in France hit 23%, compared with 8.5% for the non-immigrant population. According to a recent study second-generation immigrants are 20% more chances than their parents to be unemployed and three times more likely than non-immigrants.
Gerard Segura, Aulnay’s Socialist Party mayor, fears that the increase of joblessness and the lost revenue will make impossible his effort to regenerate the town. The town already deals with a 17% jobless rate, which for 18- to 25-year-olds tops 40%. If Germany decided to recruit Italian, Turkish and Greek workers, the French industry focused on its former colonies in North Africa, therefore working with Algerians, Moroccans and Tunisians.
“I only know people on short-term contracts,” said Djaafar Ait Hammou, 23, of the plant, where 80% of the workers are of North African origin. “Only the old-timers have full-time work. The younger people are easier to manipulate.”