3M boss in France released after a day

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The manager, released after being held hostage for more than a day, said the company and the labour unions have reached a new agreement.

PITHIVIERS – A 3M industrial conglomerate manager was released Thursday after being held for more than a day by French workers trying to force their US employer to improve their redundancy package.

Following hours of talks between representatives of labour unions, 3M-Sante and 3M France, the laboratory manager of the company's factory in Pithiviers, 85 kilometres  south of Paris, left the office where he had been held since Tuesday afternoon.

There have been several cases of executives being held hostage over the past year by French workers outraged at learning that their jobs were being slashed.

"We have an agreement with 3M to provide funds to respond to our demands," said union representative Jean-Francois Caparros.

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.

The released boss, Luc Rousselet, said: "The talks will resume and it's a very good thing... this will allow us to emerge from the deadlock.

"I am very happy for the employees of Pithiviers," he said as he emerged amid stray boos of "Rogue boss!"

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

Added 36-year-old Cyril Foufelle: "It was despair and distress which made us do this."

The unions will press for a special bonus of at least EUR 5,000 for workers who are shifted to another plant and at least two to three years of annual pay for those laid off, according to their seniority.

The detention came less than two weeks after workers held the boss of Sony France hostage overnight before freeing him after he agreed to reopen talks on their pay-off when the factory closed.

Last week angry tyre factory workers burst into a management meeting and pelted their bosses with eggs to protest the closure of their plant.

Worker-employer relations are not particularly good at the best of times in France, but since the economic storm struck they have deteriorated rapidly.

There is a growing sentiment, here as elsewhere, that the business elite caused the crisis but it is the workers who are paying.

AFP / Expatica

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