A Bordeaux Court of Appeal has declared null and void a programme of 149 jobs cuts at Pernod Ricard-owned cognac producer, Martell & Co.

The proposed cuts had provoked a hunger strike protest among some of Martell's staff.

The Court has effectively overturned a ruling made earlier in the year which rejected objections from Martell's works council about o the job losses.

In essence, the Bordeaux Court considered that the consultation process over the cuts fell short of the legal requirements and in particular, that the plans presented to Martell's works council had not been in a definitive form.

The Court is reported to have prohibited Martell from carrying out any lay-off measures and has been handed a fine of €1,000 payable to the works council.

The Martell brand has seen its sales fall 40% over the past decade and a serious loss of competitiveness has almost inevitably led to moves to shed staff.

In return for the 149 jobs axed, Martell plans to create 36 new posts . The group said none of the cuts would lead to compulsory redundancies, a claim rejected by staff unions.