‘Boss-napping’ in France again

This is a video of a demonstration by French workers against plans to close the Molex plant.

From British daily The Morning Star:

Workers hold ‘lying’ bosses over plans to outsource factory jobs

Tuesday 21 April 2009

WORKERS at a French subsidiary of US firm Molex have detained two bosses in protest at plans to close the plant in south-east France.

Molex Automotive announced in October they were planning to close the plant and relocate its work to China and the US.

But workers “discovered that Molex officials planned and organised the closing of the plant at Villemur-sur-Tarn long before the October announcement to employees,” said Jean-Marc Denjean, a lawyer for the employees.

Some 300 workers will lose their jobs when the plant, which manufactures electrical connectors, ceases production on June 30.

Trade union representative Guy Pavan said: “Officials premeditated their move for months and lied to us,” adding that the workers intended to save their jobs and keep the equipment should the company leave.

He said that about 100 workers entered a room at the company where workers and managers were meeting on Monday.

They demanded that plant director Philippe Fort leave, then detained co-director Marcus Kerriou and human resources director Coline Colboc. …

Kidnapping bosses, while not a new tactic in France, is being increasingly used as a negotiating tool in the current economic crisis. None of those held have been mistreated.

Workers at Hewlett-Packard subsidiary FM Logistic in eastern France held five bosses for 10 hours last week, in protest at plans to cut 483 jobs from June.

Some polls in France have revealed that up to half of French people believe such measures are justifiable for workers seeking a better redundancy package during the economic crisis.

A blog supporting the Molex workers’ actions is here. It is in French, but on its right hand side is a button for translation into English and other languages. There is an Internet petition in support of the workers there as well.

Update Wednesday 22 April 2009: Employees at a factory in south-west France freed two bosses whom they have held captive for two days in protest at plans to close the plant and throw its 300-strong workforce on the scrapheap: here.

Molex update August 2009: here.

Bossnapping in France and Gherao in Bengal: here.

French workers threaten to blow up plant: here. And here.

2 thoughts on “‘Boss-napping’ in France again

  1. ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE : Les violences dont sont victimes les salariés

    By Olivier Mayer

    Employees are victims of violence as well.

    Translated lundi 27 avril 2009, par Laure Tallot

    The political right wing and employers are trying to set public opinion against the so-called “detention” of executives and bosses. The French people decline to follow suit.

    “Almost every day now there is a new occurrence of bosses or executives being detained by angry employees…” Last Friday morning (April 10), France Info thus began its news bulletin about the three Faurecia executives held until 11 p.m. the day before by exasperated employees. On that very same day Le Figaro’s leader was up in arms about “the disturbing drift of the protest movements” and “the dangerous tendency of social conflicts to get out of hand”. Then the President of the Republic invoked “the Rule of Law”. “Such furore is quite surprising” François Chérèque remarked, “Hardly a wavelet” Bernard Thibault added : trade-union leaders rightly put the events into perpective ; but the right wing and employers keep on brandishing the spectre of chaos.

    When Bernard Thibault, after observing that these events were “union actions that could in no way be likened to hostage-taking”, claims that “he understands them and will defend them as long as employers do not suffer any bodily harm”, there is an outcry. According to Frederic Lefebvre, the UMP spokesman, Bernard Thibault gives “a poor image of trade-unions.” And he contributes “to tarnish the image of France in the world”, prompting “multinationals to decide to close sites in France instead of somewhere else.” Nothing less ! Even more burlesque, Jean-François Roubaud, the president of the CGPME, the union of owners/managers of small and medium-sized businesses, invites the company bosses “to refuse to start negotiating with a gun held to their heads” and asks the government to “start the legal proceedings that are called for by such lawless behaviour”. More prudently, the MEDEF [1], through Benoît-Roger Vasselin’s voice, recommends “not adding fuel to the fire by not focusing on this particular point”.

    Surveys show that French public opinion understands the need for discontent to have visible manifestations : witness the leader written by the general secretary of the CFTC Philippe Louis, published in the Confederation paper “In the eyes of the CFTC nothing can justify assaulting people and destroying property. (…) However one can understand that employees, who have been victims of violence for almost thirty years, turn this very same violence against those who, in their opinion, are responsible for it ”. He wonders why those who protest today “were almost never heard condemning other types of violence such as unemployment, erosion in purchasing power and deterioration of working conditions and living standards.” He reminds us that “at the end of 2008 two incumbent ministers went to support bosses who were opening their shops on Sundays in total breach of the law”. He also denounces those who said nothing “against the violence of reneging on an agreement, as in Continental at Clairoix”.

    translator’s note :

    [1] The MEDEF is the French equivalent of the CBI.



  2. Manager freed from chemical plant

    Tuesday 06 October 2009

    Workers at a French chemical plant owned by US corporation Dow Chemical have freed their boss after holding him overnight in protest at the closing of the Loire Valley factory.

    Christophe Fillippi, a worker at the plant, emphasised that Christian Siest, the director of the Rohm and Hass chemical factory, was given access to the bathroom, water, telephones and the internet while he was held.

    Mr Siest was locked up on Monday afternoon.

    Mr Fillippi explained that the workforce wants management to either retract the decision to close the factory or pay each of the 97 employees a “decent” sum of money as indemnity. Negotiations have begun.

    The Rohm and Haas factory, which is located 70 miles south-west of Paris, was bought by Dow Chemical on April 1.

    It produces adhesives and glue used for cars and packaging.



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