Report: Workers at closing French Goodyear plant take bosses captive, release them after police pressure
Workers at a Goodyear tire factory in Amiens, France that is slated to close took the whole concept of peaceful protest a bit too far, holding a pair of executives hostage and demanding “enormous amounts of money,” according to a report from The Guardian. The two men were held for two days but have since been released, according to a report from Business Insider.
The two trapped executives, Production Manager Michel Dheilly and Human Resources Director Bernard Glesser, were at the plant to meet with union representatives to discuss the plant’s future. However, 200 uninvited guests/disgruntled workers also turned up and barricaded the door of a conference room with a tractor tire (shown above with Dheilly and Glesser), according to reports.
“We want to go back to the negotiating table to seek a voluntary departure plan and see if someone will take it [the factory] over,” said Franck Jurek of France’s General Confederation of Labour, the group that represents the Goodyear workers, according to The Guardian. Business Insider reports that this is not the first time French labor unions have taken hostages, with Caterpillar, Sony and 3M all seeing execs captured by angry workers back in 2009.
The French factory was embroiled in controversy last year when an American businessman, Maurice Taylor, Jr, was asked by the France’s minister for industrial regeneration if he’d be interested in buying the plant. “Do you think we’re stupid? I’ve visited this factory several times. The French workers are paid high wages but only work three hours. They have one hour for their lunch, they talk for three hours and they work for three hours,” Taylor said. “You can keep your so-called ‘workers’.” The closure of the factory would leave nearly 1,200 workers jobless, with layoffs slated to begin later this month.
Taylor was later asked to respond to the bos-napping incident. He said, “They’re taking hostages. In the US, that’s kidnapping. If they did that in the US, these people would go to jail. Why don’t they just go and rob a bunch of French banks and they could end up buying Goodyear? They’re crazy. I mean, come on! Get real.”
Despite having freed the two hostages, the leader of the CGT at the Goodyear factory, Mickael Wamen, offered this ominous warning: “The show is only just beginning.”