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French Renault workers take managers captive in bid to stop factory sale


Workers trying to block the sale of a Renault car parts factory held seven managers against their will for 12 hours in the latest “bossnapping” to hit French industry.

Managers at the Fonderie de Bretagne, a foundry near the town of Lorient, in Brittany, north-west France, that has been put up sale, were held by union activists on Tuesday morning and prevented from going home until 10.30pm.

A union rep, Mael Le Goff, from the hard-left CGT, said the union had decided to release the managers because “they still didn’t want to have a dialogue so it was pointless trying to talk to people who don’t want to engage”.

The carmaker, which “strongly condemned” the detention, said it was trying to find a buyer for the factory, which employs 350 people, in order to “maintain activity at the site and safeguard jobs”.

Mael Le Goff
Mael Le Goff said the managers were released because they ‘didn’t want to engage’. Photograph: Fred Tanneau/AFP/Getty

Labour relations are often fraught in France, with clashes between executives and unions regularly in the headlines. In 2014, workers at a Goodyear tyre factory in northern France held two directors captive for nearly 300 hours to try to prevent the plant being closed. In 2015, angry Air France employees chased down several executives at the airline’s headquarters near Paris, stripping one naked to the waist in front of TV cameras and leaving another with his shirt and jacket in tatters. Three people were given suspended prison sentences for the attack.

A spate of “bossnapping” during the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007-2012 led the rightwing leader to promise to put an end to the practice by giving police extra powers.

While managers at the Renault foundry have been freed, the factory remains closed, with picketing workers demanding that the carmaker rethink its plans to sell the site. “We are still waiting for progress with this issue,” Le Goff said. “It’s been going on for a year; it’s exhausting.”



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