French workers may resume threat to blow up plant
PARIS, July 22
PARIS, July 22 (Reuters) - Workers from collapsed French car parts maker New Fabris came out of a meeting with officials on Wednesday saying they may resume a threat to blow up their plant to back demands for bigger redundancy payouts.
Union representatives met Industry Minister Christian Estrosi after workers agreed on Monday to remove gas canisters they had placed at the New Fabris plant in Chatellerault in central France, ready to blow it up.
The 366 workers have been demanding a payment of 30,000 euros ($42,580) each from the two main clients of New Fabris, Renault (RENA.PA) and PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUP.PA) but are only in line to get around 11,000 euros from the proceeds of the sale of assets to the two carmakers.
"We knew very well we wouldn't get everything today," Eric Poisson, a representative of the CFDT union said after the meeting with Estrosi. "If there is no progress, the canisters will return," he said.
The threat to blow up the plant was one of a spate of similar protests by French workers following the "bossnappings" earlier in the year in which company executives were held hostage in the workplace.
Such spectacular protest actions have become the tactic of choice for some workers but have been frowned upon by some unions who regard them as counterproductive.
"These struggles for redundancy payouts...in no way solve the underlying problems," the powerful CGT union said in a statement.
As well as staff at New Fabris, workers at telecoms equipment maker Nortel and crane manufacturer JLG have made similar threats.
Renault and Peugeot have agreed to buy New Fabris' remaining assets and stocks, subject to quality guarantees, on condition that the money goes to the company's former workers.
Estrosi also said in a statement that government measures were in place that would help New Fabris staff find new jobs and he repeated his condemnation of violent threats. (Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau; Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Jon Boyle)