France: Metal workers defend undocumented colleagues

Workers at the Métal Couleur Système factory in Bonneuil went on strike after 19 of their colleagues were fired due to their immigration status.

Submitted by jef costello on May 11, 2007

The workers were originally fired towards the end of January, after a government inspection of the factory showed that 19 of the factory's 64 workers. The worker's contracts were cancelled after the inspector declared that they were using false papers.

Some of thse fired had been working at the factory for 10 years and they returned to the factory on March 26, determined to occupy their workplace. With the support of other workers they were able to demand a meeting with the prefect on the same day. Some of the workers received temporary papers immediately.

So far all of the workers have received temporary papers and 11 have won back their jobs, the local government has promised to evaluate their demands for papers on a case by case basis and that their work contracts will be respected. Workers have pledged to continue with solidarity action until they are all given papers.

Workers at the factory said that it was an open secret that they were working illegally and that management made them do the hardest work and only paying them the minimum wage. Illegal immigrants have been found working in the other three factories belonging to the owner, it has also been shown that some of the workers had supplied new papers with different names while staying in the same post.

There is a precedent for this type of action, workers at an industrial laundry in Essonne won papers for 18 of their colleagues last year. There is also a similar strike underway at a supply warehouse in the Val-de-Marne region.