Two executives including an HR director are being held captive by workers at a Goodyear tire plant in northern France.
Hundreds of employees at the Amiens plant, which is slated to close, reportedly barricaded two managers in a room in the plant during a trade union meeting yesterday.
The workers have said they will only release the executives if the factory is kept open, or they receive “enormous” redundancy payoffs. The closure is expected to leave 1100 people without work.
The site’s HR director, Bernard Glesser, and head of production, Michel Dheilly, are the two bosses being held hostage, in a situation that union leaders have described as “calm”.
Franck Jurek of the CGT union told France’s RTL radio: “Even if we have to wait three or four days, they are not getting out.”
“We want to go back to the negotiating table to seek a voluntary departure plan and see if someone will take it [the factory] over. If there’s nobody, then [we want] a departure plan for everyone with an enormous amount of money,” he said. “We've lost all legal means of recourse, so now we're changing tack.”
The practice of kidnapping managers used to be common in France, but has become less popular since legal changes made it harder for companies to push through unfair agreements. While perpetrators can potentially face fines and jail time, prosecutions are rare.
This is not the first difficulty at the Amiens factory, which has been up for resale or closure for almost five years. When an American rival tyre manufacturer was asked whether he would consider buying the site he described the workers as overpaid and lazy.