Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Laid-off French workers threaten to blow up factory for redundancy pay - Telegraph.co.uk

Workers at a car parts factory in western France unhappy with their redundancy payments rigged up a bomb in their factory.

"We are not terrorists or revolutionaries," one machine tool operator insisted between puffs on a Gitane cigarette, as he watched his redundant colleagues pitch their boules.

Of course what they are doing is extreme, but they are in an extreme position," said one supporter, who did not want to give his name, in the town square. "If they do nothing they will get nothing. We understand that."

Earlier this year, laid-off workers in a handful of other factories embarked on "boss-napping", seizing managers and refusing to set them free until better redundancy deals were secured. No workers have been prosecuted, despite the clear breach of the law.

Thousands of Frenchmen regard it as unexceptional to take the law into their own hands to defend what they regard as their rights.

Until last year their employer, New Fabris, a small French firm, was a success story, making engine components and axles for cars such as Lagunas and Meganes in the 22,000 square metre factory. "This closure is a catastrophe, a human disaster for people with bills and mortgages to pay, and the car companies are using the economic crisis as a chance to restructure," he said. "On 31 July we will leave the keys and go. After that, don't be surprised if the factory goes up in flames."

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