Workers release hostage bosses
3 December 2004
BRUSSELS – Workers at glass company AGC Automotive in Fleurus released their managers on Friday afternoon after keeping them hostage for 24 hours.
The employees of the plant near Charleroi refused to let 15 managers leave their offices after 284 redundancies were announced.
On Thursday, at a special company meeting, management announced a third of its 840 workers would lose their jobs by the end of 2006.
The Fleurus site, which used to be called Splintex and is part of the Japanese firm Asahi Glass, has been making a loss for the last five years, despite a recapitalisation of EUR 155 million and investment of EUR 43 million.
Workers were told the site would be reorganised to concentrate on basic production, with more work being subcontracted out. Two factories at Fleurus will specialise in making laminated glass and toughened glass for cars while machinery producing side windows will be shut down.
Union representatives immediately accused the management of breaching the Belgian employment law, known as the Renault law, by not giving workers the opportunity to present counter proposals.
The workers’ decision to take their bosses hostage prompted hours of emergency talks between AGC Automotive personnel and the Walloon government, led by employment minister Jean-Claude Marcourt.
The unions decided to release their bosses at a general meeting at noon on Friday. At 2pm, the unions and management were due to meet with an industrial conciliator at the employment ministry in Brussels.
AGC workers announced, however, that they would continue the strike they started on Wednesday until the following Wednesday.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news