French Workers Lock Up 4 Bosses in Layoff Dispute

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

PARIS (AP) - Workers at a steel plant in eastern France have locked up four of their bosses in a dispute over layoffs, marking a new eruption of frustration at the fallout of the financial crisis.

The plant in the town of Fraisses, owned by Swedish manufacturer
Akers, is slated to close because of a collapse in orders over the
past year, and the plant's 120 workers are to lose their jobs.

Talks Wednesday on severance pay packages broke down and several workers angry with the company's offer locked up the director of Akers France, the director of the Fraisses plant and two human
resources directors, said Akers spokeswoman Christine Baudelaire.

The workers brought them food and water but woke the four
repeatedly during the night, Baudelaire said Thursday.

Similar "Boss-napping" incidents hit factories around France
last year, as recession hit companies from tire makers to
electronics manufacturers, prompting factory closures and layoffs.
The incidents were rarely violent, and the managers were generally
released after a day or two. The federal government intervened to
settle several disputes.

At the Akers plant, discussions resumed Thursday morning but
again broke down. The French junior minister for industry,
Christian Estrosi, issued a statement saying the managers would no
longer talk to the workers until they are set free.

Estrosi said in a statement he "deplores and condemns with the
greatest firmness" the incident. "Nothing can justify such
irresponsible behavior."

Benoit Bourg, the human resources director of the Fraisses plant
and among those sequestered, said the company has offered all it
possibly can to the workers.

The company has seen "a very brutal drop in orders" since the
beginning of 2009, Baudelaire said. Akers announced temporary
layoffs at its plants in Sweden last year because of the downturn
in the global steel market.

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