French President Nicolas Sarkozy has pledged to help workers at US bulldozer maker Caterpillar after they kidnapped four managers and held them hostage for 24 hours in a protest over layoffs.
Sarkozy said in an interview “I will save the site.” It is not clear exactly what he meant as the factory is not threatened with closure. The managers were released after Caterpillar agreed to pay the workers for three days they’ve been on strike. But one worker was not happy with that, and said: “It’s not exaggerating to say what they’ve done is split the union; to pay us for the three strike days: that’s obviously ridiculous!” The managers were released at the plant in Grenoble, southeastern France so that could continue negotiations over severance packages for those being laid off. Just over a quarter of the 2,700 workers are losing their jobs as Caterpillar slashes its workforce worldwide in response to slumping demand for construction and mining equipment. The Caterpillar incident is reflects growing worker anger in France over layoffs. It is the latest example of ‘bossnapping.’ In recent weeks workers at 3M and Sony plants have taken managers hostage.