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French workers threaten to blow up factory

21 April 2014

On March 28, a group of 58 workers occupied the now closed Bosal-le-Rapide factory in the northeastern French town Beine-Nauroy, demanding that the Dutch parent company, Bosal, pay them additional redundancy remittances on top of the severance package they had already been offered.

CGT demonstration - Photo: Ben Siesta
CGT demonstration - Photo: Ben Siesta

Inside the factory, according to France 24, workers piled wooden pallets and sheets of cardboard around a car, next to a crudely written sign with the word “BOOM” on it in red spray paint.

“We have placed gas canisters at the entrance and built a huge bonfire inside the building, which we are ready to set fire to,” Gérard Gape, a representative of the Bosal-le-Rapide CGT union, was quoted in French daily Le Parisien.

In a country where “boss-napping” – or the practice of taking one’s boss hostage as a bargaining chip during labour negotiations – is not unheard of, the workers at the Bosal-le-Rapide factory have now seriously upped the ante.

“If they want to get their property back in good shape, they should start negotiating,” Gape told television channel France 3.

It is not the first time that workers at the Bosal-le-Rapide factory in Beine-Nauroy have taken such drastic measures. In February 2012, they halted production at the plant for two weeks, sequestering their management for many  hours on two separate occasions, to protest against the company’s “dismissive attitude” towards employees it had just laid off.

On April 17, workers set fire to the car and pile of combustible material at the site, but there were no reports of gas canister explosions.

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