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 to be in liquidation in April, so the 366 workers stand to get no redundancy money, although they are entitled to draw state unemployment benefit.
90% of the work at the factory is for Renault SA and PSA Peugeot Citroen and the workers have demanded that the companies finance a payment of 30,000 euros ($41,800) for each of the 336 staff at the factory, or some 10 million euros in total. PSA and Renault recently funded redundancy packages for 200 workers at another subcontractor, Rencast.
Workers are claiming that there are two million euros worth of parts in the factory and a brand new machine belonging to Renault of similar value. They are threatening to blow up these parts and equipment if they do not receive an acceptable redundancy package.
"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.
"We won't let PSA and Renault wait for August or September to pick up their stock and machinery... If we get nothing then they won't get anything at all." he continued.
A delegation of 150 workers visited PSA headquarters last week and workers have a meeting on Thursday with Renault and at the ministry of employment on Monday. 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.
PSA have released a statement stating their willingness to purchase the parts within the factory but refusing to accept responsibility for the workers. Renault's statement claims that they have been trying to help the company find a buyer as a going concern but that this has not been possible.
The company is the successor to Fabris, founded in 1947 and put into liquidiation in 2007. After liquidation the firm was acquired by ZEN of Italy which retained 380 of the 416 staff.ZEN SpA, based in Albignasego near Padua, makes cast iron parts for vehicles. Florindo Garro, head of ZEN, controls other metal firms in France such as Rencast and SBFM that are also having financial difficulties.
Some French workers have adopted militant tactics in the economic crisis, including "bossnappings" where managers have been held hostage in their offices.