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French 3M workers barricade boss in office

Industrial director confined behind wardrobe

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Workers at a French 3M plant barricaded their boss in an office yesterday, in a protest over plans to lay off 110 employees, Reuters reports.

The group's industrial director, Luc Rousselet, was confined to quarters by a strategically-placed wardrobe in the factory at Pithiviers, near Orleans. Staff are demanding "more money for departing staff, guarantees for those remaining and salary payment for those who had gone on strike over the redundancy plan".

Union rep Jean-Francois Caparros told the news agency: "Until we have a commitment from 3M that they will increase pay-packets and are ready to discuss our conditions for negotiations, then Mr. Rousselet will have to remain here.

"If he wants to involve the police, then he will have to send for them, but it is out of question that he leaves without discussing our conditions."

Rousselet told Reuters from behind the wardrobe: "These people have more to complain about than me and I knew there was this risk when I came here."

3M has said the job cuts are necessary at Pithiviers "to reduce overcapacity because of falling demand". Rousselet continued: "We have had five rounds of negotiations ... and at the end of the last one we reached an agreement on a certain number of points, but there are still measures left where there are substantial points of disagreement."

Obstreperous French workers have of late made quite a habit of detaining management. Earlier this month, sacked Sony employees at a video tape plant took the company's local chief exec hostage, eventually forcing a return to the negotiating table. ®

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