Rising public outrage at employers has led to kidnappings, marches and strikes in France – a country with a long tradition of labor unrest. Yesterday, workers at a Caterpillar factory in Grenoble held four managers hostage and demanded further talks over redundancy measures.

The head of human resources, the factory director and two other managers had been locked in an office during the day. 

“The four are being held until they agree to reopen negotiations,” said Bernard Patrick, a representative of the Confederation Generale du Travail union. “They have been sequestered.” He said the executives may be held late into the night.

In a similar instance, workers at a factory operated by US firm 3M released the manager they had held hostage for more than 24 hours after reaching a deal on conditions for laid-off staff. Managers have also been locked up at plants run by Sony this month in disputes over planned redundancies. On both occasions, unions said they managed to wring concessions from the executives.


Locking up bosses, including HR staff, becoming a common practice in France when mass lay offs are announced, with police apparently reluctant to intervene to avoid violence.

There have already been many examples of employees peacefully fighting back against redundancies and working conditions. Workers at Waterford Crystal in Ireland and Prisme in Scotland have occupied their workplaces in protest at job losses, whilst at a car parts factory in Canada workers occupied the plant, welding the doors shut from inside.

They won double the redundancy payments that they were originally offered. Meanwhile, in Belfast, workers laid off by car parts maker Visteon are staging a sit-in claiming they should be getting Ford redundancy terms as the US company has heavily subsidised Visteon.