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Renault, French unions close to labor deal: minister

The Renault automaker company logo is displayed outside a car dealership in Bordeaux, Southwestern France, March 1,2013. REUTERS/Regis Duvig
The Renault automaker company logo is displayed outside a car dealership in Bordeaux, Southwestern France, March 1,2013. REUTERS/Regis Duvig

PARIS (Reuters) - Renault and French unions could clinch a labor agreement within days, France's industry minister said on Sunday, as the car maker tries to boost its competitiveness in the face of tumbling sales in its home market.

Renault wants unions to accept measures including about 8,000 job cuts over three years and moving workers between sites.

Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg, who is attempting to stem a wave of layoffs and plant closures as jobless claims in France reach 15-year highs, said in a broadcast interview that both sides had made concessions.

"I think it's on the way," Montebourg said when asked if an agreement was likely, adding he thought a deal could come "in the coming days".

Regarding France's other car maker, PSA Peugeot Citroen , the minister said the company would need to develop a long-term alliance with another car maker to secure its future, without giving more details.

Peugeot has a one-year-old alliance with General Motors under which the partners have plans for three joint vehicle programs.

Montebourg reiterated the government's line that it has no plans to acquire a stake in Peugeot, which suffered a biggest-ever loss last year.

The minister backed an idea floated by Environment Minister Delphine Batho to offer incentives to owners of older diesel cars to buy less-polluting models.

But he ruled out a return to a general scrappage bonus, calling it "a drug" for car makers, and also opposed raising fuel taxes on diesel fuel to bring them into line with gasoline, a move proposed by the government's auditor this week.

(Reporting by Gus Trompiz; Editing by David Cowell)

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