Vive La Revolution! French Union Workers Plan to Blow up Factory

July 14, 2009

(ChattahBox)—French union workers at a bankrupt auto parts company have staged a workplace coup d’état, barricading themselves inside and threatening to blow up the factory on July 31, unless their demands are met for additional unemployment compensation.

Workplace revolts and “boss-knappings” are commonplace with the fiery French, but this time workers have significantly raised the stakes, revealing the anger that’s boiling to the surface since the Global recession caused nearly two million French job losses.

Workers with the failed auto parts maker New Fabris, are demanding that Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroen, the company’s two biggest clients, pay 366 workers facing unemployment, 30,000 each. Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroen provided nearly 90 percent of the company’s business, with New Fabris holding about two million euros of stock in the two carmakers.

Inside the factory is a machine owned by Renault worth about two million euros that the workers intend to obliterate, unless Renault comes up with unemployment compensation. The workers have mined the factory workshop with gas canisters and say they are ready to set them aflame.

“Are we capable of blowing up the factory? Yes we are,” said Guy Eyermann, member of the CGT union leading the protest. “Renault and Peugeot have killed us. We want a share of the cake. They have been helped by the state,” added Eyermann.

French workers are angered by the state bailouts of banks and carmakers, while other industries suffer from bankruptcies and job losses. But carmakers Renault and Peugeot are holding firm, denying they have any obligation to the workers.

Government officials are concerned about the rise in labor unrest in France, fearing more violent workplace revolts in the near future as job losses increase, and are treating the workers’ threat seriously.

Last spring as the recession hit and layoffs increased, numerous workers kidnapped their bosses, holding them hostage until their demands were met for greater redundancy payments. The French workers are essentially allowed to get away with workplace revolts, because of workplace labor councils with strong negotiating powers and strict laws protecting worker’s jobs.

Meanwhile, the New Fabris workers are ready for a showdown with Renault, PSA Peugeot Citroen and the French government and it will end when one party blinks first. The workers are holding firm.

“If we get nothing, they get nothing at all,” said Eyermann.



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