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French workers drop threat to blow up factory


Latest update : 2009-07-31

Employees at the bankrupt New Fabris car parts factory, who had demanded 30,000 euros each in compensation from Renault and Peugeot, have dropped their threat to blow up their plant after agreeing to a revised compensation offer.

REUTERS - French workers who had threatened to blow up their car parts plant in a dispute over mass layoffs voted on Friday to accept a new compensation offer and drop their threat.

The conflict at the firm New Fabris, which had been dragging on for weeks, highlighted the radicalisation of workers' protests in France as the economic downturn hits the job market.

The workers at New Fabris, a bankrupt sub-contractor to carmakers Renault and Peugeot, had been demanding 30,000 euros ($42,340) each in compensation. They wanted the two big auto groups to pick up the bill.

Faced with management's refusal, some of the workers had piled up gas cylinders at their factory in Chatellerault in central France and threatened to use them as a bomb.

After marathon talks with management, mediated by the authorities, New Fabris staff held a vote on Friday on whether to accept a final offer to raise their compensation to 12,000 euros net of tax from a previous offer of 11,000 euros pre-tax.

In secret ballot, 204 workers voted to accept the new deal while 24 voted against it.

"It was 12,000 euros or nothing, and at this stage nothing was not an option for us," said Dominique Duval, a staff representative and member of the Force Ouvriere labour union.

Although not involved in the financial settlement, Renault and Peugeot did contribute to ending the conflict by saying they would buy the defunct company's stock.

The New Fabris dispute spawned copycat threats by workers at other companies in France facing mass layoffs, including the local arm of Canadian telecoms manufacturer Nortel.

The threats follow a spate of "bossnappings" earlier this year, during which workers detained their managers on company premises to push their demands for compensation packages.

Date created : 2009-07-31