Monday, April 13, 2009

France: Workers seize bosses to save jobs

France: Workers seize bosses to save jobs

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It is hard—but not impossible—to lay off workers in France because they have legal rights to their jobs. But as the economic crisis tightens its grip on the French economy, more and more French bosses are resorting to layoffs.

Sequestration is the French word for making the bosses bargain when they instead want to lay off workers to make more money. Rather than sitting in to seize the plant, French workers sit around their bosses and insist they bargain. This happened four times in March.

French labor experts say that this tactic appears to be on the rise. What makes the French bourgeoisie tremble is that a majority of the French public support the tactic. (New York Times, April 3)

In the case of Caterpillar’s plant near Grenoble, where 733 jobs were on the line, a “sequestration” led the company to back down and French President Nicolas Sarkozy to declare that he would take “steps” to save the factory. The cops have publicly announced that they will not intervene against sequestrations as long as there is no violence or property destruction. (bellaciao.org/fr/)

The unions have been quick to point out that 90 percent of France’s bailout money is going to companies, not workers.

Henri Guaino, a special counselor to President Sarkozy, told a conservative French newspaper, “Every politician, every leader must consider this problem ... because everything can break down, the political risk is very high, the risk of violence, of revolt is very big, and the situation can degenerate.”

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