French workers threaten to blow up factory.

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Jul 12 2009 20:55
French workers threaten to blow up factory.

From the Guardian:

PARIS, July 12 (Reuters) - Workers at collapsed French car parts maker New Fabris threatened on Sunday to blow up their factory if they did not receive payouts by July 31 from auto groups Renault and Peugeot to compensate for their lost jobs.
New Fabris was declared in liquidation in April, so the workers stand to get no redundancy money, although they are entitled to draw state unemployment benefit.
They want Renault SA and PSA Peugeot Citroen to pay 30,000 euros ($41,800) for each of the 336 staff at the factory, or some 10 million euros in total, in return for its remaining stocks of equipment and machinery.
"The bottles of gas have already been placed at various parts of the factory and are connected with each other," CGT trades union official Guy Eyermann told France Info radio.
"If Renault and PSA refuse to give us that money it could blow up before the end of the month," he added
A delegation of the workers has a meeting on Thursday with Renault, which had no immediate comment. Police also declined to comment on the threat by the workers, who are occupying the New Fabris factory at Chatellerault, near Poitiers in central France.
The company is the successor to Fabris, founded in 1947 and put into liquidiation in 2007. It was later acquired by ZEN of Italy which is headed by Florindo Garro. ZEN SpA, based in Albignasego near Padua, makes cast iron parts for vehicles.
Garro controls other metal firms in France such as Rencast and SBFM that also have financial difficulties.
Some French workers have adopted militant tactics in the economic crisis, including "bossnappings" where managers have been held hostage in their offices.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/feedarticle/8604230

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Jul 12 2009 21:08

This has worked before.
http://www.wildcat-www.de/en/zirkular/61/z61e_mou.htm
http://libcom.org/library/preface-to-from-cellatex-to-moulinex
http://libcom.org/history/2000-cellatex-chemical-plant-occupation

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Jul 12 2009 22:55

If someone could post this as a news article that would be great

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Jul 12 2009 23:08
Steven. wrote:
If someone could post this as a news article that would be great

Done. I've also managed to find a photograph of the gas bottles with apparent detonators.

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Jul 12 2009 23:13

If no one's put it up by tomorrow then I'll have a look around and see what I can find.

akai
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Jul 13 2009 08:47

There's also a video of this on France 24.
http://www.france24.com/en/20090712-new-fabris-factory-chatelrault-bankruptcy-worker-threat-explosion-france

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Jul 13 2009 10:18

Nice one auto - the story is here for anyone else http://libcom.org/news/french-factory-workers-threaten-blow-factory-12072009

if you found out anything else Jef that could be edited in, or posted as a comment...

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Jul 13 2009 10:23

I don't have anything to contribute, but this is AWESOME. smile

futility index
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Jul 13 2009 14:57

Do people reckon this is just a publicity stunt or a sincere threat? Those 'detonators' don't look that convincing to me. I'm all for millitancy but if this is real it seems kind of nuts - has the situation in france progressed to a point where anything could come of this other than prison sentences?

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Jul 13 2009 15:39

I think it's pretty sincere. As outlined in the links Jef provided, this has happened before, and is not uncommon. People who've done it before have not generally been prosecuted to my knowledge - because all the work is done inside occupied factories, where the authorities cannot get into, it would be very difficult to try to prosecute criminal charges about it afterwards.

France is a pretty crazy place!

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Jul 13 2009 16:57

fixed the formatting mistake, tarted the grammar a bit and stuck in a couple of extra facts.
not sure if I've actually improved it though.
someone have a look and swich it back to the old version if needed.

edit: there are statements available so that bit has to stay in.

breakout
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Jul 14 2009 11:24

What irrelevant insurrectionary stuntist substitutionist vanguardist nonsense.

What has this got to do with everyday normal people and their common workplace class struggle?

All that this spectacle of hatred and violence will do is alienate normal working class people from the movement for libertarian communism, thereby preventing the revolution from ever happening. It is exactly this kind of action that gives us a bad name and makes us look like mentalists.

Honest hard-working innocent people might get hurt and what about everyone who just wants to go to work or who lives in the area? What about them?

I bet no one can get 'Le Big Mac' at the local McDonalds if all the local surroundings have to be evacuated. I thought you were in favour of 'Le Big Macs'?

I heard those CGT are really militant and have a paramilitary wing who are pipe weilding thugs. I'd watch out and stop glorifying terrorism if I were you- you'll end up in prison with the rest of the evildoers, where your name will appear on an ABC prisoner list asking for money and xmas cards.

Enjoy Xmas, Libcom Bastards.

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Jul 14 2009 13:08
breakout wrote:
What irrelevant insurrectionary stuntist substitutionist vanguardist nonsense.

What has this got to do with everyday normal people and their common workplace class struggle?

All that this spectacle of hatred and violence will do is alienate normal working class people from the movement for libertarian communism, thereby preventing the revolution from ever happening. It is exactly this kind of action that gives us a bad name and makes us look like mentalists.

Honest hard-working innocent people might get hurt and what about everyone who just wants to go to work or who lives in the area? What about them?

I bet no one can get 'Le Big Mac' at the local McDonalds if all the local surroundings have to be evacuated. I thought you were in favour of 'Le Big Macs'?

I heard those CGT are really militant and have a paramilitary wing who are pipe weilding thugs. I'd watch out and stop glorifying terrorism if I were you- you'll end up in prison with the rest of the evildoers, where your name will appear on an ABC prisoner list asking for money and xmas cards.

Enjoy Xmas, Libcom Bastards.

All you're showing here it is that you are actually unable to understand our positions. And that you're not funny.

If all you have to say is based on some nonsensical straw man then why don't you leave real discussion for the grown-ups, eh?

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Jul 14 2009 14:03

This is pretty amazing.

Quote:
"We burned these machines here a couple of days ago as proof we're ready to go all the way," New Fabris employee Daniel ThÉbault told French news channel i-TÉlÉ as he motioned to several heaps of charred metal outside the main building. "We're not going to simply be discarded like worthless objects."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20090713/wl_time/08599191012400

Quote:
Guy Groux, a specialist in French social and labor conflict for the National Center of Scientific Research, notes that while that kind of activity would bring about legal punishment and public denunciation elsewhere in the world, it's viewed with singular tolerance in France. That's due in part to lingering French admiration and respect for insurrectional and revolutionary movements, and a national inclination toward stroppiness. "French history is filled with examples of rebellion and insurrection sparked by injustice that, like the Revolution itself, involved excesses people tend to minimize as they approve the wider cause involved," notes Groux. "There are social, cultural, historical, even nostalgic reasons for France's acceptance of behavior that other nations find abnormal - not to mention very real lingering French suspicions of capitalism and globalization."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20090713/wl_time/08599191012400

226pxx170px

ernie
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Jul 15 2009 10:10

This threat is a sign of total desperation not strength. It offers no way of trying to spread the strike or to draw workers together.

akai
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Jul 15 2009 10:35

Apparently this action was inspirational. I posted something on the news here about another factory using these tactics.

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Jul 15 2009 10:55

It's not a sign of strength that the workers feel justified and able to deliver such a threat? Fuck me, we obviously have different ways of measuring brawn.

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Jul 15 2009 12:45

France seems a bit like a power keg these days with workers seizing factories and threatening to blow them up in addition to rioting in the banlieues. I don't know very much about the situation in France but does anyone think that the workers at the New Fabris will actually blow up the factory? Is this more than empty threat? Talk is cheap. And if the workers successfully destroy the New Fabris plan, what kind of results will it have? More state repression? An escalation of class conflict throughout France? Any chance that workers and the banlieusards will consciously act in tandem? This is probably more fantasy than reality. Will workers be able to get real concessions by taking factories and bosses hostage?

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Jul 15 2009 14:51
breakout wrote:
I've got nothing better to do with my time.
breakout
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Jul 15 2009 22:11

Admin delete: what was the point in writing that post? - Ed

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Jul 15 2009 22:41
breakout wrote:
Admin; pathetic aggression/threats deleted. Banned - one week.

don't be pathetic.

In reply to people who actually care.

bossappings have been on the rise.
This is an unusual but not unprecedented move.
The explosives don't look convincing but there's a decent chance they will trash the factory. The police are unlikely to move in.
I'll have a look around the sites tomorrow if I get a chance and see what the mood is.

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Jul 16 2009 04:16

As from what I know about the situation in France, this is comparable to the cases of bosnapping and to a case where workers threatend to discharge toxic chemicals some two years ago. It is a last and clarion argument in negotiations. In mostly happens in situations where the workers affected already had accepted their lay-off. Thus is not used a means of a collective struggle for higher wages, better conditions, workers control, against the closure of a plant or for the aboltion of the wage systen. It is used for no other purpose than to backup the union delegates in the negotiations for the best compensations. Of course it makes a difference if you are about to be layed-off with no compensation at all or with 15.000 or 30.000 Euro.

French workers are using quite an arsenal of tactics to improve their compensations. Often it makes no sense to start a strike as the plant is to be closed anyway. Same goes for occupations. Bosnapping was chique this spring instead and resulted in some good compensations. But the public has been somewhat used to bosnapping most recently. So there was the need to find a stronger symbol in order to get media attention and hence backup for compensation negotiations.

The idea that workers might blow up "their" means of production in a conflict is amazing. But I guess we are still far from that. We are instead talking about a situation, where they threaten to scrap means of over-production that are already doomed to be fitted for nothing else but a knacker's yard. In Germany certain leftist that have no idea about workers struggles are praising bossnapping and gas bottles as if France is close to social revolution. I guess, there is not much sense of reality in that.

MT
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Jul 21 2009 06:22

[i]I've found this info today but without source. any comments from people from France here on libcom?/i]

French workers suspend threat to blow up plant

PARIS, July 20 (Reuters) - Workers at French car parts maker New Fabris voted on Monday to remove gas canisters they had threatened to use to blow up their factory to back demands for higher redundancy payouts, a union representative said.
Workers at the plant in Chatellerault in central France voted by a show of hands to suspend the protest ahead of talks with aides to Industry Minister Christian Estrosi, who had demanded an end to the threats as a condition for the meeting.
"We had to take this opportunity. Time is limited," Christian Paupineau, a delegate of the CGT union, told Reuters. "But there has to be significant progress. The canisters are being stored and kept under surveillance and they can be re-installed at any time," he said.

Threats to blow up factories have taken over from "bossnappings", in which managers have been held hostage at their workplaces, as a shock tactic for French workers facing plant closures.
As well as staff at New Fabris, workers at telecoms equipment maker Nortel and crane manufacturer JLG have made similar threats.

Hit by the crisis in the automobile sector, New Fabris has collapsed, leaving 366 workers redundant. They have been demanding a payment of 30,000 euros ($42,470) each from the two main clients of the company, Renault and Peugeot-Citroen. Renault and Peugeot have agreed to buy New Fabris' remaining stocks, subject to quality guarantees, on condition that the money goes to the company's former workers. But unions say that would leave each worker with a payout of just 6,600 euros.

Union representatives are due to meet officials from Estrosi's office on Thursday.

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Jul 21 2009 12:08

I'm pretty sure the author of this post is French. wink

baboon
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Jul 21 2009 19:38

The great difficulty that the working class is facing today is how to struggle when the factory is closing or you are about to be made unemployed.

A little while ago, some 20,000 Bangla Deshi workers, protesting about pay, went onto the streets, smashed several textile factories up and then confronted the army.
On this thread, we've heard about a threat by the CGT to blow up a factory, which according to reports from France by JPD, translated by Nico, called the factory a "fortress" with no attempt to open up to anyone.
I think that the first is an example of positive class struggle and the second a trap by an organisation of the state. I do not find electrical wires coming out metal cannisters "inspirational" nor do I find it "awesome" in any sense related to the class struggle.

Factory occupations can be moments in a struggle but they can also be prisons for the workers involved. As Steven says on the Ssangjong thread, spreading the strike to other workers is the best hope of winning.

I agree with Molly though, what we're seeing here is brawn; the brawn of an organisation of the French state that regularly acts against the working class: the CGT. The reason why the illegal actions of this union is generally tolerated by the state (that's not to say there couldn't be a fall out) is that the CGT has always acted in the interests of French capital. Just a couple of weeks ago, the CGT used its "brawn" (and iron bars) in an employment centre in Paris to beat up and throw onto the streets a number of immigrant workers and their families who had taken refuge there - they attracted very little criticism from the left, certainly less than if the "fascists" or the CRS had done the job. Physically attacking immigrant workers is not new to the "brawn" of the CGT - nor is attacking French workers politically. They specialise in these "commando", military type actions and threats, always with an eye to defending the national interests of France - which is their function. During the 79 steel strike in the Lorraine, the CGT's slogan was "1870, 1914, 1940, that's enough!", ie, the defence of French capital against Germany. They've a history in that as well.

Against this, the argument of an increase in redundancy pay for a few workers is paltry. Against the whole avalanche of pay cuts, job cuts, productivity and flexibility being "negotiated" by every major union in every major country, it's a joke. Lindsey gives the example of how to fight, not this example of the isolation work of nationalist gangsters that may or may not have drawn some workers in behind them (as they've done with people on here). Around Lindsey there was plenty of potential "brawn" but also a good dose of "brain": solidarity, extension and united action.

MT
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Jul 21 2009 21:17

did i miss something or why you speak about how bad CGT are? I haven't seen a post saying they are fine. i really don't get what you are trying to say except repeating some political mantra for some unknown reason

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Jul 21 2009 21:49

Isn't the point here that too many comrades are being suckered by the pseudo-radicalism of the CGT?
Occupations can be a trap but they can also serve as a basis for assemblies, opening up to other workers. We saw small signs of this at Visteon. the threat to blow up the factory offers no such perspective. robot's post was also clear on this.

MT
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Jul 22 2009 06:35
Quote:
Isn't the point here that too many comrades are being suckered by the pseudo-radicalism of the CGT?

really? like who?!

and my point was aslo that I am bit annoyed of posts that just repeat things already said (and in the mantra style).

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Jul 22 2009 15:26

On the other thread, I think, the worst example was Jack arguing how this proves that you don't need solidarity and extension to win your demands, which in my opinion entirely falls into the mindset of the CGT which specialises in the whole idea of 'jusquauboutism' (fight on to the bitter end - in one sector) or musclebound actions as so many alternatives to proposing the extension of the struggle. Falling into the union trap doesn't have to be intentional.

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Jul 22 2009 15:42
Alf wrote:
the worst example was Jack arguing how this proves that you don't need solidarity and extension to win your demands, which in my opinion entirely falls into the mindset of the CGT which specialises in the whole idea of 'jusquauboutism' (fight on to the bitter end - in one sector)

Jack was arguing that in this instance they didn't need to extend the struggle to win. this is called reality, since that is what actually happened.

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Jul 22 2009 15:49

jack, the M25 is the london orbital tongue