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Angry French workers block billionaire Pinault
PARIS, March 31 |
PARIS, March 31 (Reuters) - Angry workers facing the sack blocked French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault in a taxi in central Paris on Tuesday before riot police came and cleared the road of protesters, officials and police said.
Pinault, chief executive of retail and luxury group PPR (PRTP.PA), was trapped in the car by staff from two stores owned by his firm that have recently announced up to 1,200 job cuts for their French operations.
"They briefly delayed Mr. Pinault's car as he was leaving a company meeting," said a spokes person for the group.
French radio said he was blocked for an hour.
Pinault, one of France's wealthiest men, is the latest businessman to fall foul of protesting workers in France, with labour relations growing increasingly tense during the sharp economic downturn.
Earlier on Tuesday, dozens of workers at a factory run by U.S. company Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N) blocked four managers in their offices in southeast France and demanded further talks on their plans to lay off some 733 employees.
Managers at plants run by Sony (6758.T) and 3M (MMM.N) have also effectively been held hostage this month in disputes over redundancies. On both occasions, unions said they managed to wring concessions from the executives.
Police have previously been reluctant to intervene to avoid violence and Pinault is the only businessman who has so far been freed by the security forces.
Business leaders speaking in private have said they are increasingly concerned by the situation and say they are being made scapegoats for a crisis that was not of their making. (Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau, writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Jon Boyle)
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