Workers at the doomed Goodyear tyre plant in northern France have released two company executives after holding them for more than 24 hours.
The “boss-napping” was to try to get higher pay-outs for more than 1,000 planned layoffs.
A trade union representative, Mickael Wamen with the left-wing CGT, said this came from frustration: “All the powers of the state are available to Goodyear. Goodyear has got everything it wanted. We never wanted to use harsh methods, nonetheless the battle of Goodyear is not over.”
He said the executives – the production director and the head of human resources – were set free only because police were on their way to release them after a regional prefect ordered their rescue.
“We are freeing these people to avoid some of us facing justice for this, because there was a decision that was taken by the Amiens court. We were informed that police and riot police were going to come and, to avoid fighting with police, and also that some us would not only would lose their jobs, but also end up in jail.”
France 2 TV showed the Goodyear executives seated at a table staring straight ahead as workers shouted in their ears. One director had a bed pan thrust in his face.
The dispute has gone on since 2009 when workers rejected management plans to cut costs and boost output to make the plant more competitive. Goodyear said it needed to be modernised to produce the sort of tyres now required on the market.
At a nearby Dunlop tyre plant owned by the same Dunlop-Goodyear parent group, workers accepted new conditions. That plant is still producing after receiving hefty investments.
Goodyear’s attempts to close the Goodyear facility have been stalled by violent protests and France’s prolonged layoff procedures.
The unions at Goodyear are now no longer fighting to keep the plant open, but want severance packages of between 80,000 euros and 180,000 euros depending on seniority. Management’s layoff proposals have not been made public.