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 user 2009-03-25 at 3:50:38 pm Views: 45
  • #22287
    French strikers hold 3M exec hostage amid talks
    France – Striking French workers for U.S. manufacturer 3M held their
    boss hostage amid labor talks Wednesday at a plant south of Paris, as
    anger over layoffs and cutbacks mounted around the country.While the
    situation at the 3M plant outside Pithiviers was calm, worker rage
    elsewhere boiled over into an angry march on the presidential palace in
    Paris and a bonfire of tires set alight by Continental AG employees
    whose auto parts factory was being shut down.While France has a long
    tradition of labor unrest, the latest wave of hostage-takings, marches
    and strikes has echoed across Europe, as the global slowdown fans job
    fears and leaves many workers skeptical of their leaders’ ability to
    solve the crisis.The French division of 3M — a diversified U.S.
    manufacturer known for Post-It notes and Scotch tape — recently
    announced layoffs and job transfers among its 2,700 workers at 13
    French sites. Among those targeted are 110 of the Pithiviers factory’s
    235 workers.

    A few dozen workers at Pithiviers took turns
    standing guard Wednesday outside factory offices where the director of
    3M’s French operations, Luc Rousselet, has been holed up since Tuesday.
    The workers did not threaten any violence and the atmosphere was calm.A
    few police officers stood outside, while workers inside exchanged jokes
    and worries about their future amid heaps of empty plastic coffee cups
    and boxes of cookies.Talks among 3M workers and management resumed
    Wednesday mediated by a local labor official. Rousselet was not taking
    part. Workers want better severance packages for those being laid off
    and better conditions for those keeping their jobs.

    In France,
    it is not unheard-of for striking workers to hold company executives as
    a way of winning concessions from management. The hostages are almost
    never injured. A similar situation ended peacefully earlier this month
    at Sony’s French facilities.”We don’t have any other ammunition” other
    than hostage-taking, said Laurent Joly, who has worked at the
    Pithiviers plant for 11 years and is angry that he is being transferred
    to another French site.”I really have the impression that we no longer
    exist for these people,” Genevieve Camus, who has worked for the plant
    for 35 years, said of the company’s U.S. management.The Maplewood,
    Minnesota-based 3M is also planning job cuts at facilities in the
    United States and other developed nations.The 3M workers at Pithiviers
    have been on strike since Friday. Hamon said Rousselet was blocked from
    leaving the factory Tuesday after arriving from 3M France headquarters
    near Paris.

    Store owners in Pithiviers were shutting down early
    on Wednesday to support the factory workers.When Rousselet came out of
    the guarded office to go to the bathroom Wednesday, workers booed him
    while reporters asked how he was holding up.”Everything’s fine,” he
    said.Workers planned to bring Rousselet mussels and french fries for
    dinner if he was still there Wednesday night.

    In Paris, an acrid
    plume of black smoke from burning tires wafted mere blocks from
    President Nicolas Sarkozy’s Elysee Palace. It was a clear signal that
    French labor unrest over the state of the euro zone’s second-largest
    economy had taken an ugly turn for the worse.Faced with what it calls
    the collapse of the European auto market, Germany’s Continental
    recently announced plans to close the plant in Clairoix, northeast of
    Paris, in 2010.”We shouldn’t let this company close down, otherwise it
    means that all these robber bosses can do whatever they want to,” said
    Antonio Da Costa, a union representative.

    Rising public outrage at employers also surfaced in Scotland.
    attacked the home and car of the former head of the Royal Bank of
    Scotland, smashing windows early Wednesday at the house of the ex-CEO
    who resigned in disgrace but walked out with an annual pension of about
    700,000 pounds ($1.2 million).Three windows were smashed at Fred
    Goodwin’s sandstone Victorian house in one of Edinburgh’s wealthy
    suburbs. The rear window of a black Mercedes S600 car parked in the
    driveway was also smashed.