Militant workers heading this way?

Workers are occupying the Visteon factory in Belfast - as the French 'bossnap' more execs.

by
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

The action by the Visteon workers follows an announcement today from the car parts company that it's closing its Belfast plant, at the expense of more than 200 jobs. It's also shutting down its two other UK factories, in Basildon and Enfield.

The Unite union in Northern Ireland justified the action as a response to ‘brutal' job cuts: workers had apparently heard nothing of the plans to close the plant until a meeting this morning informing everyone they were out of a job. Then made one of the few moves left to victims of sudden redundancy: they refused to leave.

We don't want to get all Daily Mail on you, but with one eye on events across the pond, we couldn't help wondering whether the French approach to direct action could one day spread this way.

Workers certainly don't seem to be getting any more laissez-faire over there. Four Caterpillar executives were detained by their employees today, in a protest over redundancy plans at the heavy equipment maker. The director of the group's factory in Grenoble was held in an office along with three senior managers. This follows similar incidents in France at Sony and 3M already this month.

The idea of actually kidnapping your boss may seem alien to the rest of us (outside the realm of daydreams at least), but has been ascribed to several factors that converge for the French: a long tradition of direct action, a history of high unemployment, and now the sharp contrast between redundancy plans and executive rewards.

Of course, just because the French are at it, doesn't mean that it will necessarily catch on. They also have a tradition of leisurely lunches, arty films, and deep philosophy - none of which the Brits go in for. Who knows what the Daily Mail would say if we did. Best stick to the celebrity gossip, takeaway sandwiches - and peaceful protests.

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