Sacked French Workers Release 3M Boss

Deal was reached with union on terms for laid-off staff

French workers on March 27 released the manager of a factory run by 3M who was held for more than 24 hours after a deal was reached on renegotiating terms for laid-off staff. Manager Luc Rousselet was allowed to leave the plant in Pithiviers, central France, shortly after midnight following several hours of negotiations between union leaders and officials from 3M France, brokered by local politicians.

"We have an agreement with 3M that they will provide the means to respond to our demands," said union representative Jean-Francois Caparros. "The negotiations will resume and that's a very good thing," said Rousselet as he emerged from a management office where he had taken refuge on March 24.

"I am very happy for the employees of the Pithiviers factory. I know that this was a very difficult lay-off plan for them," he said as workers shouted "Scoundrel boss!".

Unions at the plant in Pithiviers are pressing for a special bonus of at least 5,000 euros (US$6,785) for workers shifted to another plant and two to three years of annual pay for laid off staff.

The factory, which produces pharmaceutical products, employs 235 people but 110 of these jobs are to be shed this year due to falling orders and another 40 are to be shifted to another plant.

Maryse Bulte, 44, one of the employees, said: "Initially we didn't want to hold him. We just sought talks and concrete results."

"It was despair and distress which made us do this," added Cyril Foufelle, 36.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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