Nestle Waters will launch its Perrier cost-cutting scheme after its main trade union dropped opposition to the plan. The unit said today (29 September) that, while the Communist-linked CGT union had dropped its opposition to the scheme, it had stopped short of signing up to the plan.

Nestle Waters wants to offer early retirement to some workers to help boost productivity. Two other trade unions have agreed to the proposal, but the CGT could hold up its implementation.

"We are welcoming the CGT's decision to drop opposition, but regret its refusal to sign the accord," a spokesman for Nestle Waters said.

"If we have difficulties in the implementation and don't reach our objectives, there is no reason for us to modernise and invest in the plants and maybe we'll get back to selling Perrier," the spokesman warned.

The CGT had said on Monday (27 September) that it would have to negotiate guarantees for investments to modernise the plants but Nestle said that it had no incentive to put money in unless it could go ahead with its restructuring first.

The stalemate ended after French Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy intervened in an attempt to resolve the row.

Nestle had been talking to the unions for months as it tries to boost Perrier's performance, resulting in a proposal earlier this year to allow employees aged 55 years or older to retire early by 2007.