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Fillon says Continental protesters should face charges

Video by FRANCE 2 , Gulliver CRAGG

Latest update : 2009-04-23

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has warned that hundreds of workers at the Continental tyre company who trashed a government building on Tuesday to protest planned layoffs should face charges, calling their acts "unacceptable".

AFP - Prime Minister Francois Fillon warned Wednesday that workers who vented their anger by trashing a government building should face charges, as fears grew of French labour unrest turning violent.
   
Workers from the German-owned Continental tyre company went on a rampage Tuesday after a court refused to block the company's decision to shut down their factory and scrap 1,200 jobs.
   
A few hundred employees ransacked offices of the regional administration in Compiegne, northeast of Paris, smashing windows, overturning desks and wrecking computers.
   
"These are violent acts that are unacceptable," Fillon said in a radio interview, adding that there should be legal proceedings against those who caused the damage.
   
"But at the same time, these are violent acts that were carried out by a minority of workers and which should not be the focus of all of our attention, which should instead be directed at the future of Continental."
   
Continental last month announced the closure of its factory in Clairoix, north of Paris in March, the biggest single closure announced so far in France, and workers have been been waging an intense campaign to save their jobs.
   
The plight of the Continental workers and a wave of "boss-nappings" by employees angry over lay-offs have raised alarm over spiralling social unrest in France, which is set to sink deeper into recession in the coming months.
   
"It's unacceptable to target a government building because you're angry, even if this anger is justified," budget minister Eric Woerth said separately.
   
"At Continental and elsewhere, managers cannot be sequestered, government buildings cannot be ransacked. The people who do such things must be held responsible," Woerth told Europe 1 radio.
   
Workers at a US-owned Molex car parts supplier in southern France held two managers captive at the plant for more than 24 hours before releasing them late Tuesday.
   
President Nicolas Sarkozy earlier this month said locking up company bosses in their offices was illegal and that he would not allow "matters to go on like that."
 

Date created : 2009-04-22

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