US auto firm boycott over French plant closure

3rd September 2009, Comments 0 comments

France’s industry minister calls for a boycott against US car parts maker Molex that is relocating to the US causing hundreds to be jobless.

Paris – France's industry minister threatened Wednesday to call a boycott against US car parts maker Molex, accusing it of blocking a buy-out proposal for a French plant that would save hundreds of jobs.

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.

Industry Minister Christian Estrosi issued a statement after what he described as "very tense" talks with group head of development Eric Doesburg, charging that "the US management of Molex is not behaving as it should."

He accused the US firm, headquartered in Lisle, Illinois, of obstructing a buy-out proposal from an unnamed third party, even though the government was prepared to fully finance the deal.

"The only obstacle to the buyer's proposal is the stance of Molex, whose particularly unconstructive attitude is blocking any solution for the future of the site at Villemur-sur Tarn and its 283 employees," he said.

Estrosi called on Molex to negotiate "in good faith" to reach a deal by the beginning of next week.

If not, he said the French 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."

But the US group said on Wednesday it was "shocked" by the French government's stance and that talks with the buyer had broken down through no fault of its own.

"The company identified by the French government... did not seem to have a business plan for the Villemur factory and its staff, and did not have the will to make the necessary capital investments," Molex said in a statement.

"Molex is concerned by the erroneous portrayal of its reindustrialisation efforts," added the group.

"The very least we can say is that we were surprised, shocked by the minister's statement," said the group's head of human resources for Europe, Markus Kerriou.

The Villemur-sur-Tarn plant closed last month for security reasons after Molex accused a group of workers of assaulting Doesberg when he travelled there for talks.

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

But the US 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.

AFP / Expatica

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