Nestle Waters is to start an overhaul of its French water operations without Perrier. The company will focus on its Vittel and Contrex sites from tomorrow (1 April). Nestle Waters has been in a long-running dispute with a union at its Perrier plant in Vergeze.

While signing the accord for the cost cuts on Tuesday, Nestle Waters France also gave the CGT labour union at Vergeze more information on its plans to split its French operations into autonomous subsidiaries. The communist-linked CGT union has not yet given an opinion to Nestle on the proposed changes.

In a statement, Nestle Waters France said: "We can only deduce that the CGT is looking to deliberately sabotage the future of the business by taking hostage its tool of work and hence its workers."

Nestle's plans would introduce early retirement to its French sites. The plan could affect more than 1,000 workers at the various plants.