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Goodyear workers ‘occupy’ plant

goodThe stand-off between workers at the Goodyear plant in Amiens, northern France, and the management has escalated to a stage of workers’ occupation of the plant, media reports said. Police had to intervene on Tuesday to free two senior managers, whom the angry workers had held hostage.“The hostage-taking has turned into an occupation of the plant,” The Wall Street Journal quoted Paolo Ghilardi, a Goodyear spokesman. The report added that about a hundred people were on the premises, demanding better layoff conditions after a seven-year-long legal battle.

The two officers were meeting workers when farm tyres were rolled in to block the doorway. Discussions that extended past midnight did not succeed in resolving the issue. Belfast Telegraph reported that some journalists were allowed to enter the room where the managers were being held. The atmosphere inside resembled a college dorm, with several employees laughing and cheering as others rolled a tractor tyre into the doorway, the report said.

“We’ve been stuck in this room for three or four hours, and it’s out of the question that I respond to questions under pressure,” Bernard Glesser, the director of human resources, told journalists in a video posted on the French website Dailymotion by the Courrier Picard newspaper.

Later on Tuesday afternoon police intervened to free the two executives following a court order to ensure security and free movement of people and goods inside the factory premises.

The dramatic development has taken the controversy over the Ameins plant’s operations or the lack of it. This is the Goodyear unit that hit the headlines last year when the US tyre maker Titan’s boss Maurice Taylor made controversial comments about French labour behavior. Responding to reports about Titan’s plans to buy out the unit, Taylor said the French workforce “gets paid high wages but works only three hours.”

Goodyear had been facing the heat over the loss-making unit with its battle with the tough French labour laws and trade unions for over five years now.

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