French workers protest by ‘booby-trapping’ plant

The 279 employees of a car parts manufacturer want to pressure clients to maintain orders and keep the plant afloat.

Protesting workers in France dismantle plant equipment
Workers at an ailing car parts factoryhave destroyed equipment and "booby-trapped" the site [PASCAL LACHENAUD/AFP]

Workers at an ailing car parts factory in central France have destroyed equipment and “booby-trapped” the site to pressure the country’s carmakers to keep the plant afloat.

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The factory is a supplier for PSA Peugeot Citroen and Renault, but falling orders brought the plant under threat of judicial liquidation, with 279 jobs on the line.

On Thursday morning, workers cut a machine in half with a blowtorch and were planning to wreck another, union representative Vincent Labrousse told news agency AFP. He said they had also “booby-trapped” the site with gas canisters and petrol cans.

“We refuse to be given the runaround one minute longer,” he said. “We’ve been fighting for six months, and are sorry it has come to this, but the risk is that it [the plant] will be liquidated”, Labrousse said.

The GM&S factory has been trying for weeks to get order commitments from Peugeot and Renault – as sought by a French automotive supplier interested in taking over the plant.

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On Wednesday, trade unions said the government-brokered talks had failed and called on incoming president Emmanuel Macron to take up the case before a May 23 deadline for GM&S to find a buyer for the site.

Macron, a former economy minister, will be inaugurated on Sunday, taking over from Socialist President Francois Hollande.

Macron faces a major challenge to turn around the economy and halt industrial job losses – one of the main driving forces behind the far-right National Front whose candidate Marine Le Pen was runner-up in the presidential election, with 33.9 per cent of the vote.

Source: News Agencies