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Page last updated at 04:40 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Striking French workers free boss

Luc Rousselet leaves 3M offices in Pithiviers, France (26 March 2009)
Mr Rousselet said the conditions in his office had not been too bad

French workers at a factory south of Paris have freed their boss after barricading him in a row over lay-offs.

Employees of the US-owned firm 3M had held its head of French operations, Luc Rousselet, for more than a day.

They freed him only after he signed a deal to re-negotiate terms for redundant workers.

The incident was the latest of a number of cases of direct action by French workers trying to fight the effects of the economic slowdown.

About 20 workers shut Mr Rousselet in his office in the town of Pithiviers on Tuesday evening.

They eventually freed him after he agreed to re-negotiate compensation packages for the 110 workers facing redundancy at the plant.

National protests

On leaving the office, Mr Rousselet said he was satisfied that what had happened had broken the impasse at the firm.

"The conditions were not so bad," he added.

Local union official Jean-Francois Caparros had said though there was no aggression, barricading the industrial manager in his office was the workers' "only currency".

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Protesters burn tyres in Paris

One employee said Mr Rousselet had locked himself into his office after workers turned up to negotiate with him.

The protest at the 3M offices comes at a time of rising social tension linked to the impact of the economic crisis in France.

There was a similar protest earlier this month at Sony France.

Two managers there were held captive overnight and were only released after agreeing to restart talks on the terms of redundancies.

Last week French unions staged a national strike during which they claimed as many as three million people took part in street protests against the government's economic policies.

On Wednesday, workers from a Continental tyre factory that is due to be closed in 2010 took to the streets in Paris, burning tyres near the presidential offices.



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