Ka-Boom Times: Pay or We Blow Up the Factory

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

The situation in the collapsing French parts industry is turning explosive—literally. Workers at bankrupt French car parts maker New Fabris threaten to blow up their factory if they do not receive money from Renault and Peugeot, Reuters reports. The workers are occupying the New Fabris factory at Chatellerault, near Poitiers in central France.

Their ultimatum: Renault and PSA had better pay €30,000 ($41,800) to each of the 336 laid-off workers at the factory, a total of around €10 million. If they pay, they get the remaining stock of parts and the tooling. If not . . .

“The bottles of gas have already been placed at various parts of the factory and are connected with each other,” CGT trades union official Guy Eyermann told France Info radio. “If Renault and PSA refuse to give us that money, the factory could blow up before the end of the month.”

A delegation of the workers will meet Renault on Thursday. The police have no comment.

The company had been acquired by ZEN of Italy which is headed by Florindo Garro. ZEN makes cast iron parts for vehicles. Garro controls other metal firms in France such as Rencast and SBFM. They also have financial difficulties. The industry is in a bust-boom cycle: The treat of blowing up the factory comes after holding managers hostage have received Gallic shrugs and are not even mentioned in the media anymore.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Geeber Geeber on Jul 13, 2009

    I thought that the European approach to the economy was supposed to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the first place. I guess not. As for people asking, "Why don't American workers do this?" - I'm sure that many American auto executives would say the same thing. They could let the workers burn down the factory, then break all of their contracts, and source parts from more competitive manufacturers (or just reduce their supplier base).

  • Paris-dakar Paris-dakar on Jul 13, 2009
    I thought that the European approach to the economy was supposed to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the first place. Actually, the Neo-Marxism popular among the Euro Elite eggs this rabble on.
  • Paradigm_shift Paradigm_shift on Jul 13, 2009

    Sabot = Shoe. During labor disputes in the 19th century, disgruntled French workers would throw their wooden shoes into the gears of the machinery causing it to break, hence, “Sabotage.” Someone's been watching Star Trek 6...

  • Tricky Dicky Tricky Dicky on Jul 17, 2009

    What to do huh?! Exploding gas canisters, supply interruptions, miserable workers. Mmm. Well, there's about €2M in parts and about the same in tooling, then the cost of the plant itself (low market value whilst auto demand is bottomed out right now). A bit of rounding and damage assessment about the unsatisfactory nature of controlling exploding gas canisters, say damage of less than €5M. 366 workers asking for €30K a piece, a smidge of bank and accountancy fees makes €11M. Then factor in entertainment value. My quick reckoning says let 'em push the plunger.