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Tire company Goodyear is taking legal action after the company’s director of production, Michel Dheilly, and head of human resources, Bernard Glesser, were held hostage for two days at the Amiens-Nord plant in Northern France by the company’s union CGT.
CGT decided to take drastic action and held the executive captive on Monday over plans to shut down the factory – a move that will affect 1,173 workers.
Goodyear announced last year it was planning to close the factory, which currently employs about 3,000 people in France, after five years of failed negotiations with the workers. In an email statement, Goodyear said it refused to continue talks with the union until the executives were released.
“Condemning this kind of action, the local authorities are calling on the management and the union to return to the table and renew a constructive dialogue,” the company’s regional office said in the statement.
With the help from French police, the two executives were released unharmed this week, although Mickael Wamen, leader of the CGT union said at a press conference: “The show is just beginning.”
On Wednesday, Goodyear said it will be taking legal action against the union, adding in a statement the company will not tolerate “actions that endanger people and goods”.
This is the latest of a seemingly new phenomenon of boss-napping in France, where workers kidnap or hold managers hostage when official discussions sour.
In 2009, executives from Caterpillar Inc, 3M and Sony were held hostage on separate occasions over salary and job cut disagreements.
UPDATE: Although kidnapping the boss sounds like a crazy idea, apparently it is a tactic which has worked well in the past for French unions.
According to this Bloomberg article, workers who have committed “boss-nappings” have done so without being prosecuted in many cases, and many have also won sizeable concessions.
In 2009, executive from Caterpillar (CAT) were hold hostage by staff, and the company eventually increased its severance package to an average of US$108,000 per employees. In the same year, Ariston decided to pay US$123,000 for factory workers who protested layoffs by locking managers out of the building.
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