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French workers lock up bosses at logistics firm

STRASBOURG, France, April 16 (Reuters) - Workers from a logistics company detained five managers in northeastern France on Thursday, refusing to free them until sufficient progress had been made on redundancy talks, a union official said.

Around 125 employees hustled their way into a management meeting at a logistics centre owned by FM Logistic in the city of Woippy on Thursday morning in the latest example of angry French workers locking up bosses to make their demands heard.

“We’ve had enough. We have been in the midst of restructuring since April 2008 and we have been negotiating for a year, if you can call it negotiation, and we haven’t managed to make ourselves heard,” said local union member Bruno Damien.

The company plans to do away with 475 jobs in Woippy by May 2010, with 200 redundancies slated from June onwards.

Union representatives had submitted around a dozen proposals to management to address lay-off terms or efforts to find new jobs for staff who would otherwise have to move on, he said.

Discussions were set to resume later on Thursday.

The planned redundancies follow a decision by top PC maker Hewlett-Packard Co HPQ.N to shift printer packaging activities to Malaysia instead of using FM Logistic in Woippy.

The French company plans to shift some of its existing food packaging activities to its Woippy site, but this probably would not save any more than 20 jobs, union officials said.

Staff at French plants run by Britain's Scapa Group Plc, Sony 6758.T, 3M MMM.N and Caterpillar Inc CAT.N have also held managers inside office premises in France to demand better layoff terms -- a form of labour action dubbed "bossnapping" by the media.

While not a new phenomenon in France, such incidents have risen as recession in the euro zone’s second-biggest economy has intensified fears of rising unemployment and poor job prospects.

An opinion poll published on Wednesday suggested that more than half of French people consider the rash of “bossnapping” incidents justified. (Reporting by Gilbert Reilhac, Writing by Tamora Vidaillet; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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