Freight bosses held by workers at Paris airport

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Two senior executives of a bankrupt French freight shipping firm were held for 24 hours at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport by workers demanding new jobs or bigger pay-offs.

Paris - Two senior executives of a bankrupt French freight shipping firm were held for 24 hours at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport by workers demanding new jobs or bigger pay-offs.

Abderahman el Aoufir and Andy Cowie, the chairman and managing director of Servisair Cargo, were seized at 4:00 pm (1400 GMT) Thursday and held in a first floor office in the freight zone at Roissy airport.

The pair were released at 4:00 pm Friday, and left the site with a group of workers for a meeting with a judicial administrator, representatives of their firm's parent company the Derichebourg Group, and the French state.

Servisair Cargo was placed in administration on 31 March. A French court is to decide on 28 July whether to put the firm in judicial liquidation.

Manuel da Silva, of the Force Ouvriere union, denied that the protest amounted to a kidnapping, describing the situation as one of "tense discussions that have been prolonged."

A Paris court was to issue a fast-track ruling late Friday against Da Silva and three other Servisair workers, accused of "kidnapping", "blockade", and "moral violence" by Derichebourg.

The chief executive of Servisair told AFP he had been treated well, although he said his staff's demands were "excessive."

"There has been no violence, no insults, and we are not being mistreated," Aoufir said. "I understand the workers' frustration."

The firm employs 352 people in France, mainly in the two main airports outside Paris. Between 220 and 300 of the firm's staff are facing redundancy, Aoufir said.

The Servisair workers are demanding layoff payments of EUR 30,000 for workers of 10 years service or less, and EUR 2,000 for each additional year spent at the firm, Silva said.

Aoufir said he was about to present a draft compensation offer to the firm's administrators when he was seized.

According to Silva, the firm's planned offer would amount to some 1,400 euros per worker.

"That's unacceptable," he said. "We want to leave with our heads high."

The Roissy protest is the latest in a series of so-called "bossnappings" in France, where workers' protests have become more determined in the face of mass lay-offs since the start of the economic crisis.

While French political leaders have denounced the practice, companies have been loath to call in the police and many hostage takings have ended in new negotiations on better redundancy packages.

AFP / Expatica

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