Socialist Worker

Workers threaten to blow up factory if they don't get demands

Issue No. 2195

Workers occupied the plant last week - and are getting angrier

Workers occupied the plant last week - and are getting angrier

Workers at a French car accessories plant north of Paris have threatened to blow up their factory unless they are given better redundancy pay-offs.

Employees at the Sodimatex plant, where 92 jobs are to go, have placed petrol bombs near a large gas tank and are threatening to set them on fire.

'The plant is going to go up in smoke, if that's what they want,' said one worker.

Managers are negotiating with union leaders at the town hall in Crepy-en-Valois.

'The workers expect a lot from this meeting. There has to be a concrete result or else anything could happen. The workers are very determined,' said Eric Lemoine, a union activist.

'Even if we tell them not to do it, some of them might not listen,' said another union leader, Gerard Decleir.

On Friday staff set fire to pieces of plastic and rolls of carpet at the factory, sending billowing black smoke into the sky as police gathered outside the plant's gates.

Industry Minister Christian Estrosi condemned the workers' action as 'unacceptable' and called on them to settle the row with management through talks.

But one worker replied, 'It is destroying our jobs that is 'unacceptable'. We are being ditched, and getting very little as a pay-off.'

Workers are demanding compensation of 21,000 euros (£18,700) each, much more than the 15,000 euros (£13,350) on offer from the owners.

France has its highest unemployment rate in a decade, at 10 percent, with the car industry among the hardest-hit by the global recession.

Sodimatex, which produces car carpets, announced last April that it planned to shut down its plant in Crepy-en-Valois and began talks on compensation.

But months of negotiations hit an impasse and workers last Thursday decided to occupy the plant after police used tear gas to disperse a protest they were holding near the factory.

About 40 workers spent the night at the plant, sleeping on the factory's just-produced carpets.

Union activists contend they are seeking the same package as Sodimatex employees from another plant who were given 21,000 euros each when their factory was shut down in 2006.

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Sat 3 Apr 2010, 10:45 BST
Issue No. 2195
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