Workers in France clearly don't believe in a laissez-faire attitude to employment rights. In the latest case of ‘bossnapping,' irate staff took Luc Rousselet, industrial director of 3M in France, and barricaded him in an office overnight in protest at redundancy payments, describing the beleaguered exec as a ‘bargaining chip'.
It seems to have worked. Rousselet was released early this morning, after a deal had been signed offering more favourable treatment for the 110 employees who face losing their jobs. Demands included more money for those leaving, guarantees for those staying, and payment of salaries for those who went on strike over payments.
3M is planning to cut 1,800 jobs worldwide, including 110 of 235 employed at the Pithiviers factory in central France. The treatment of Rousselet has been described as non-violent and civilised. If it was civilised, presumably they didn't restrain him with Scotch tape and cover him in Post-It notes.
We jest, but worker unrest has become an increasingly prevalent - and disconcerting - trend in France in the wake of a weakening economy. The chief exec and HR director of Sony France were both held hostage by employees after layoffs two weeks ago. They were set free the next day when the company agreed to renegotiate redundancy pay. Last week workers at a Continental tyre factory which is set for closure burst into a meeting and chucked eggs at executives.
The Gallic temper has been ignited not just by lay-offs, but by the fact that executives have been getting a notably cushy ride of late. Take the €3.2m (£2.9m) golden parachute awarded to Thierry Morin when he stepped down as chief executive of car parts maker Valeo, which is cutting 1,600 jobs this week. Or the recent announcement that Cheuvreux, Crédit Agricole's investment wing, awarded bonuses of €51m to its managers while cutting 31 jobs.
Not that the French need much of an excuse for direct action. Early last year, Brit Mike Bacon was held by workers at his car parts factory in Besançon for 48 hours because he was shifting jobs to central Europe. Using a globalised outlook to lower your overheads? Whatever next?