There are a couple of ways to react when you learn that the factory where you work is closing, and you and your 1,172 colleagues will soon be jobless. One is to beef up that LinkedIn profile. Another is to rage against the machine.
The laborers at a Goodyear-owned plant in Amiens, France, have opted for Plan B, according the Guardian:
Workers at a French tyre factory threatened with closure have taken two company executives hostage and promised to hold them until given "enormous amounts of money"...
The two men – the firm's production manager, Michel Dheilly, and the human resources director, Bernard Glesser – were due to meet union representatives on Monday morning.
However, 200 workers also turned up to pressure management and refused to let the executives leave, blocking the door of the meeting room with a tractor tyre.
This isn't a new fight; the plant's been endangered for more than a year, and workers protested their imminent termination last winter, sans hostages (that protest is the source of the photo shown above).
Apparently it's been tough finding a buyer for the plant. French executives sought a U.S. investor, but most have shied away over concern that France's laws are too worker-friendly. "Do you think we're stupid?" one US tire businessman (and former GOP political candidate) told the factory's sellers last year, before calling the French staff lazy: "You can keep your so called 'workers'."
Lest you stumbled over the "enormous amounts of money"—these aren't the proletarians you're looking for!—the Goodyear workers' union leader, Franck Jurek, explained what the workers are really up to:
"We're going to find mattresses, all of us, and sleep here.
"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. If there's nobody, then [we want] a departure plan for everyone with an enormous amount of money."
Jurek added: "We've lost all legal means of recourse, so now we're changing tack."
In the meantime, workers in America can content themselves with their recent own hard-fought labor victories, like that 14-cent minimum-wage raise.
[Photo credit: AP]