How to Get Severance in France: Blow Up Your Factory

Nuclear explosionExpanding on the militant "bossnappings" from this spring, French workers have taken their factory hostage and are threatening to blow it up if they don't receive severance compensation, according to

On June 16, New Fabris, a car parts manufacturer, declared bankruptcy as a result of the struggling car market. In response, the 366 employees at a plant in north-central France decided that - instead of cutting their losses and moving on - they would take the factory hostage, place gas-filled bottles around the building and set a July 31 deadline. If they have not each been paid 30,000 euros by that date, the factory, along with its four million euros' worth of car parts and machinery, will be destroyed.

To complicate matters, the employees aren't demanding money from their now-defunct employer, but from the company's two main clients - Renault and PSA-Peugeot - which made up about 90% of their business.

"If we get nothing, they get nothing at all," said Guy Eyermann, a CGT union official and head of the plant's works council.


Even for the union-friendly French, I wonder how far this kind of militant behavior will be tolerated. Threatening to incinerate millions of dollars in property with gasoline bombs sounds a lot like terrorism. And, last time I checked, the court systems don't look too kindly on terrorism.

It will be interesting to see how this situation is resolved. It's a sign of the frustration levels being seen among disenfranchised workers due to the recession, but rewarding this behavior could lead to even more extreme lawlessness under union auspices. Resulting anti-union sentiment could weaken organized labor's position as a legal representative and jeopardize its standing as a bargaining entity.
Erik Samdahl
Erik is the head of marketing at i4cp, and has nearly 20 years in the market research and human capital research industry.