French government to prosecute violent workers, prime minister says
Paris - The French government will look to charge workers at a factory belonging to Germany's Continental tyre group who trashed a police station to protest the closing of the site, Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Wednesday.
"What happened is unacceptable violence ... We are going to prosecute," Fillon told France Inter radio, but said that the government was also actively looking to find a buyer for the factory, which employs 1,120 people.
About 300 of those employees ransacked a police station in the city of Compiegne Tuesday following a court's rejection their demand that the planned closing of the factory in the town of Clairoix be suspended or annulled.
"No more being nice guys," said a representative of the trade union CGT at the factory.
Continental plans to shut the site permanently by March 2010, saying that it had a production overcapacity of 15 million tyres. The factory at Clairoix produces about 7.5 million tyres a year.
France Inter reported that the workers at the Clairoix site have booked 14 railway cars and will travel to the German city of Hanover to protest at Thursday's Continental general shareholders' meeting.
"We know where to strike. The shareholders, they have our money," one angry French worker told the radio station.
As factories continue to be shut down and large numbers of employees are laid off due to the deepening economic crisis, French workers have increasingly resorted to violent means to express their grievances or try to keep their jobs.
Over the past two months there have been at least six cases of "boss-napping," where workers held executives hostage in their factories to force them to renegotiate severance payments or reduce the number of people laid off. (dpa)