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Alcatel-Lucent Employees Stage Protest

Hundreds of employees of telecom equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent marched through Paris Thursday to protest the company's restructuring plan, which calls for thousands of job losses in Europe.

Union representatives said 5,000 people turned out for the march, including many workers from company sites in neighboring Germany, Spain and Italy. Police said 3,000 marchers turned out.

Under the restructuring, Alcatel-Lucent plans to shed a total of 12,500 jobs over three years _ including nearly 1,500 in France, almost 900 in Germany and scores in Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium, unions said.

The company is seeking annual savings of 1.7 billion euros ($2.2 billion) from the acquisition of New Jersey-based Lucent Technologies by France's Alcatel, completed last November.

A police cordon prevented marchers from gathering in front of Alcatel-Lucent's headquarters in central Paris. The move angered many protesters.

"They can't prevent us from protesting here, it's scandalous," said CFDT union representative Philippe Crimet.

The march came ahead of a planned meeting Friday of Alcatel-Lucent's European works council in Paris to discuss concerns about the restructuring plan.

In February, Alcatel-Lucent posted a 618 million euros ($803 million) loss in the fourth quarter amid tougher-than-expected market conditions, particularly in North America, and merger-related uncertainty among customers.