Boss Hijackings Spike in France

Anger moves to menace as economic tensions mount
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2009 4:18 AM CDT
Boss Hijackings Spike in France
Head of the Caterpillar plant of Grenoble, Nicolas Polutnik, addresses reporters in his office where he was 'detained' yesterday by angry workers.   (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

Worrisome "hijackings" of bosses are spiking in France, underlining the threatening tensions within a staggering economy, reports the Wall Street Journal. Workers angered by layoffs surrounded the car of Salma Hayek's retail tycoon hubby François Pinault in Paris yesterday for over an hour until they were dispersed by riot cops. Four bosses at a French Caterpillar plant were "detained" by workers earlier in the day. Several other incidents over the last weeks include a boss who was kept captive overnight.

The flashpoint is often negotiations over severance packages for laid-off workers, the so-called "social plan" mandated by French law. France isn't worse off financially than other nations, but its egalitarian support for workplace justice often hikes tension. "Mr. Pinault squeezed all the cash he could" from his stores and "now he wants to throw us away," said an angry protester who blocked Pinault's car yesterday.
(More France stories.)

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