Approximately 5000 workers at French tableware group Arc International have been placed on reduced hours as the company bids to pay back a bank loan.

Arc needs to pay back an €80 million debt to its bank and has launched an urgent action plan to reduce costs.

Jose-Maria Aulotte, Arc International's Senior Vice President Corporate Human Resources and Communication, said the company had introduced a three-point action plan to save money .

These are stock depletion, an investment freeze, and to cut operational costs.

The stock depletion and investment freeze will be implemented at all its sites worldwide while its French sites will be affected by cuts to operational costs, such as reduced working hours and a cuts to expenses.

Problems began to emerge at the beginning of September and in response the family-run firm replaced its President, Guillaume de Fougières, with Partick Puy, a known troubleshooter in France who has experience of rescuing companies in financial difficulty.

The 5000 staff will face unpaid lay-offs ranging from two to three days a month to 10 days a month to reduce wages. It also means its furnaces will operate at a reduced output.

The company is talking with the French government to ensure workers receive their salaries through government subsidies.

According to French media reports, the cutbacks in staff wages will save Arc International about €20 million. An additional €30 million would be saved by destocking and another €30 million by the investment freeze.

Mr Aulotte said the problems had been caused by the financial crisis, and the length of the crisis, particularly in Europe. In a recent interview with Glass International he said Arc International had been affected by competition from cheap imports from companies in developing nations.