La Clayette is a small town counting 22,000 inhabitants, nestled between Macon and Roanne in Burgundy. But despite its subtle charm, La Clayette is being ravaged by unemployment and the recession.
Even with the news of G20 nations and giant financial institutions injecting billions into economies to keep the markets afloat, it’s difficult to stay optimistic in a small town so far from the decision-making urban centres.
Many residents here thought that they would be safely sheltered from the global crisis, especially those who worked for Potain-Manitowoc. The company is a leading manufacturer of cranes and has been a cornerstone of the region’s economy for over 80 years - the company and its subsidiaries have been the town’s main employers for decades. But due to a decline in orders since last winter, their activity has virtually stopped. The management announced it would be laying off 86 people in June.
Anxiety can be felt everywhere in La Clayette, which has been afflicted by rural flight for years. Progressively, businesses close their doors, and life seems to slow down.
Convinced that the worst is still to come, the 328 employees of Potain La Clayette, whose work hours have already been cut, have blocked access to the company’s premises to force management into negotiations. After one week they obtained better compensation, from 16,000 to 55,000 euros. But the 86 layoffs will still go ahead.