2-Day French ‘Boss-Napping’ Standoff Ends With Men’s Release

PARIS (dpa/MCT) -

Two managers at a Goodyear tire factory in northern France were released Tuesday, after having been held hostage by workers for nearly 30 hours in a row over job cuts, media reports said.

The men had been held in a conference room by workers demanding that the U.S. company, which last year announced plans to close the plant, offer improved severance payouts.

Goodyear had refused all negotiations with the workers until the executives were freed.

They were released after police intervened at the plant in Amiens. According to broadcaster BFMTV, the workers had agreed to let them go.

There were angry scenes as the executives were escorted from the building by police, with workers heckling them and calling them “thugs.”

An official with the CGT trade union, which is known for its militant approach, announced shortly afterward that the union would occupy the building until the workers’ demands were met.

The incident marks a return by trade unions to the practice of “boss-napping,” as the act of taking bosses hostage has been dubbed.

The global financial crisis of 2008-09 saw a spate of such protests at multinational companies, like Caterpillar and Sony, where bosses were locked in by staff for a day or more in disputes over job losses or severance packages.

Labor relations had improved since 2009, but trade unions have been angered as restructuring plans continue to stack up. Unemployment in France is running at 10.9 percent.

High labor costs and rigid labor laws are blamed for declining competitiveness.

In his new year’s speech, President Francois Hollande pledged to drive down labor costs in return for commitments from bosses to boost hiring.