Factory workers bare all to save jobs

PARIS Mon Aug 24, 2009 2:20pm EDT

An employee works at a workshop of Changning Steel and Iron Factory in Changzhi, Shanxi province January 15, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer

An employee works at a workshop of Changning Steel and Iron Factory in Changzhi, Shanxi province January 15, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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PARIS (Reuters) - Workers at a crisis-hit boiler factory in France have stripped off for a nude calendar in a bid to save 204 jobs slated for redundancy.

Staff at the Chaffoteaux et Maury factory in Brittany will use the proceeds to fund a trip to Italy where they plan to stage a protest at their parent company, Ariston Thermo Group (ATG), which pulled the plug on the site earlier this year.

"Our aim is to show there are workers here who will do anything to save their jobs, even take their clothes off," said Brigitte Coadic, representative of the CGT union at the site and the woman behind the calendar, which is due out in the autumn.

The operation is the latest in a line of colorful protest stunts by French workers after "bossnappings," threats to blow up factories or pollute the Seine river, as well as the traditional dumping of agricultural produce by angry farmers.

But Coadic insists that the Chaffoteaux action, in which 13 male workers pose nude covered only with masks or helmets, is completely peaceful.

"We don't want to destroy anything," she said. "We want to show what we can do, tell the management that, if they keep us, we can turn all this media attention into something positive."

Coadic said she was inspired by the stylish "Gods of the Stadium" calendar in which the muscular stars of Paris rugby club Stade Francais bare all in an annual display of discreetly lit beefcake.

The project also carries echoes of Britain's Calendar Girls -- the ladies of the Yorkshire Women's Institute who bared all for a charity calendar -- and the stripping steel workers of the 1997 British film "The Full Monty."

Coadic said that workers had been prompted to action when ATG said at the start of the summer that it would close production operations in northern France, cutting 204 jobs out of a total of 250 at the site.

(Reporting by Vicky Buffery; Editing by Steve Addison)

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