PARIS - Workers at a PSA Peugeot Citroen car plant in Britain are staging a second walkout over pay, unions say -- a move that management dismissed as pointless but sources said could jeopardize the plant's future.
Unions said the factory at Ryton, near Coventry in central England, which makes the Peugeot 206 -- would grind to a halt for four full shifts over four days from March 7 to March 10.
The strike, which management sources said would not make it budge from an earlier offer of a 7.3 percent pay rise, follows a similar walkout by 3,900 factory staff last week.
"Our offer is still the best in the industry, and we will certainly not go any further," said a management source at PSA headquarters in Paris.
Britain's Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) said in a statement said it was seeking a meeting with PSA Chairman Jean-Martin Folz ahead of the strike and lambasted the firm for refusing to negotiate.
PSA officially declined to comment, but sources said that although the firm would not sweeten its offer, the door was open for further talks.
Separately, an industry source said the strikes put the factory in jeopardy, at a time when PSA -- hailed by analysts as Europe's most profitable mass carmaker -- is crimping investment and shifting its focus to lucrative new markets in central Europe.
"It certainly puts the plant in jeopardy," said a source close to the situation. "If you have several plants that are all on a par in terms of performance then one of them goes on strike, it is clearly no longer on an equal footing."
Unions insisted the factory, which churned out 200,000 cars last year and is working at 140 percent capacity, was "one of the most successful car plants in the UK," adding PSA's pay offer was unnacceptable and well below the industry standard.
Unions said the plant's employees were even more indignant over the offer given that PSA cruised past its European rivals last week to post a jump in operating profit and pledged to maintain margins despite a wobbly European car market.
Folz last week told a news conference the first strike was "not understandable," adding that other plants in Europe would pick up the production slack from the first strike.
The strength of the pound versus the euro was eating into revenues at the British factory, Folz said earlier this year.