France Threatens Boycott on U.S. Auto Parts Maker Over Plant Closure

Government is threatening to ask French car manufacturers to immediately suspend all orders of products made by the Molex group

France's industry minister threatened on Sept. 2 to call a boycott against U.S. car parts maker Molex, accusing it of blocking a buy-out proposal for a French plant that would save hundreds of jobs.

"The U.S. management of Molex is not behaving as it should," Christian Estrosi said after what he described as "very tense" talks with the group's head of development Eric Doesburg.

The Molex group has been embroiled in months of negotiations on the fate of 283 workers at a plant in southern Villemur-sur-Tarn, after it shuts down for good in October and production is relocated to the United States. The plant was closed down last month for security reasons after Molex accused a group of workers of assaulting Doesberg when he traveled there for talks.

The French government says it is prepared to fully finance a buy-out proposal from an unnamed third party but accuses the U.S. firm, which is headquartered in Lisle, Ill., of obstructing the deal.

"The only obstacle to the buyer's proposal is the attitude of Molex, whose particularly unconstructive attitude is blocking any solution for the future of the site at Villemur-sur Tarn and its 283 employees," Estrosi said. Estrosi called on Molex to negotiate "in good faith" to reach a deal by the beginning of next week. "Any other attitude from the Molex group would be considered inadmissible by the French government," he warned.

He said the government would "draw the full consequences including by officially asking French car manufacturers to immediately suspend all orders of products made by the Molex group."

The Villemur-sur-Tarn workers, who have been on strike since July 7, want Molex to agree to a business takeover of the site, which they insist is still economically viable.

But the U.S. group, which is present elsewhere in the European market, has said it is ready to sell off the site's machinery but will not allow a potential competitor to purchase the entire business.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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