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HP packing workers seal bosses in conference room

French workers box clever in jobs row

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Workers bossnapped five execs at a French logistics plant yesterday, amidst anger at HP's decision to switch printer packaging activities to Malaysia.

Workers at FM Logistics at Woippy in NE France are angry that 400 jobs are set to go at the firm, after HP, a major customer, decided to shift its printer packing business from Woippy to SE Asia.

The "restructuring" has gone down like a a tonne of bricks with les workers, and during a meeting about the process yesterday, they decided it was time for some actione direct.

"Judging the (redundancy) measures insufficient, around 125 workers decided to apply pressure," said Bruno Damien of the CFE-CGC trade union to the AFP. The five execs were barricaded into the conference room. The workers freed a female member of the team and planned to hold the male bosses over night.

The workers generously allowed the bosses to talk, eat and visit the bathroom, though hopefully not at the same time. Two males bosses with young children were freed yesterday evening. Reports remain vague on the plight of the other two, though it's fair to guess they're either eating or talking. Or in the bathroom.

Bossnapping have occured at French operations of Caterpillar, Sony and 3M, as well as a British-owned adhesive firm.

Small business organisations have decried the practice, as has Preisdent Sarkozy. Apparently, opinion polls have show most French workers see nothing wrong in bossnapping as a negotiation technique during restructuring consultations.

As for the rest of us, it just a pity that the traditional image of solidarity in France - a bare breasted woman storming the barricades - has been superseded by a bunch of grumpy blue collars locking the suits in a conference room with nothing but a watercooler to keep them company. ®

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