- The Washington Times - Monday, April 20, 2009

TOULOUSE, FRANCE (AP) - Workers at a French subsidiary of the American company Molex detained two bosses on Monday to protest plans to close the plant in southeast France, officials and a union representative said.

Molex Automotive announced in October plans to close the plant and relocate its work to China and the U.S. But workers “discovered that Molex officials planned and organized the closing of the plant at Villemur-sur-Tarn long before the October announcement to employees,” said Jean-Marc Denjean, a lawyer for the employees.

Some 300 workers will lose their jobs when the plant, which manufactures electrical connectors, ends production on June 30.

“Officials premeditated their move for months and lied to us,” said union representative Guy Pavan. He said workers are looking to save their jobs and keep the equipment should the company leave.

He said about 100 workers entered a room at the company where workers and managers were meeting Monday and demanded that plant director Philippe Fort leave, then detained co-director Marcus Kerriou and human resources director Coline Colboc.

A statement by the company said the factory was functioning at only 30 percent of its capacity. “If production remains insufficient, we have no choice… The alert level has been reached,” the statement said.

It was not clear how long the employees planned to keep the two, who were seized about 5 p.m. (1500 GMT).

Seizing bosses, while not a new tactic in France, is being increasingly used as a negotiating tool when the economic downturn bodes ill for employment. Those held have not been mistreated.

Workers at a Hewlett-Packard subsidiary, FM Logistic, in eastern France held five bosses for 10 hours last week to protest plans to eliminate 483 jobs starting in June. The managers were freed on promises that no judicial complaints would be filed against the workers and that new proposals would be made.

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