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11 May, 2017 20:28

French workers seize factory & threaten to blow it up in protest over possible closure

Workers at a car component factory in central France have occupied the plant and are threatening to blow it up in a radical protest against their bosses as the site risks closure.

The workers at the GM&S auto-suppliers plant in the Creuse region, north of Limoges, have told Renault and Peugeot they are ready to blow up the factory if their demands are not met.

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Some 280 jobs at the site are under threat after the plant went into receivership back in December, and workers accuse the two car giants of blocking negotiations for a takeover of the factory and of making too few orders.

The protesters have already started destroying machinery at the site. Photos released on social media on Thursday, show them cutting a machine in half with a blowtorch. Trade union representatives say the workers will destroy a machine each day unless their demands are met.

Parts of the factory have been also apparently rigged with explosives, with Twitter images showing gas canisters strung up next to a huge tank of liquid oxygen. It is, however, not clear if the canisters are filled with gas or are empty.

"We did not want it to get here, but we don’t have a choice: our average age is 49, what else will we do?” CGT union delegate Vincent Labrousse told Le Parisien. “Since they want to liquidate us, we are not going to leave the factory as it is. It’s sad to say, but here we are.”

Negotiations with management over the last few weeks have failed and the closure of the factory is likely to be announced on May 23.

The protesters are demanding a meeting with Peugeot and Renault managers as well as newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron.

“We refuse to be taken for a ride anymore," Labrousse told AFP.

"We have been fighting for six months and we are sorry to get to this point but at the moment there is a threat of liquidation and if that happens then the factory will not be returned in one piece."

This would not be the first time workers have threatened to destory an auto part factory in France. In 2000, protesters threatened to blow up the Cellatex plant in the Ardennes over redundancy payments, while in 2001, a similar threat was made over the Moulinex works in Normandy.

Most recently in 2009, workers threatened to destroy the New Fabris parts factory in Vienne if their bonuses were not paid. However, none of the threats were actually carried out.