Keep Us In Business or We'll Blow Everything Up: French Supplier to Automakers

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

They do protests a little differently in France. A French supplier of brackets, bumper and steering column components to Renault and PSA Group might soon close down for good, so the shop’s unionized employees figured it would be best to turn its protest efforts up to “11.”

That apparently means destroying the equipment used to make those essential parts, as well as threatening lives by rigging the factory to explode.

So. Much. Passion.

According to French media, 280 jobs are on the line at GM&S. The La Souterraine plant was placed in receivership back in December, and an order to liquidate its assets could come within a couple of weeks.

Talks broke down on Wednesday, with union officials accusing the automakers of blocking takeover negotiations that could keep the plant in operation.

“We refuse to be taken for a ride anymore,” CGT union representative Vincent Labrousse told AFP. “We have been fighting for six months and we are sorry to get to this point but at the moment there is a threat of liquidation and if that happens then the factory will not be returned in one piece.”

Union reps have told the automakers its workers will destroy a piece of machinery each day until its demands are met. According to images posted on Twitter, they made good on this threat the very next day, slicing a large piece of equipment in half with cutting torches. Another piece of machinery was subsequently crushed with a front-end loader.

The potential for destruction isn’t relegated to the interior of the GM&S plant, either. A massive outdoor tank of liquid oxygen has apparently been rigged with gas canisters.

The recent electoral victory of President-elect Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker, hasn’t gone over well with the country’s largest trade unions. During the run-up to the vote, the unions, including CGT, protested Macron’s proposed policies of labor reform and economic liberalism.

Now, plant workers have appealed to Macron to save the factory, claiming they are open to a dialogue with PSA and Renault. If not, ka-blammo. The workers, who average middle-age, are too old to find other work, the union claims, meaning their livelihoods depend on continuing to operate the machinery they’re currently destroying.

For its part, PSA stated it was “the only client to have maintained our level of business, while other clients have abandoned GM&S.”

[Sources: Automotive News Europe; The Local] [Image: PSA Group]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

More by Steph Willems

Join the conversation
7 of 73 comments
  • Garrett Garrett on May 14, 2017

    Let's be honest: if you were a middle aged factory worker, in France, wouldn't you also resort to similar measures? These guys are not likely to find another job. France isn't really known as the land of opportunity. They are also past their "useful life" in the eyes of many, but clearly aren't old enough to retire. So what is their alternative? Finding a menial job at reduced pay, if they are lucky, or sitting around collecting social benefits. Most will end up on the latter. Frankly, the idea that people are willing to fight with tooth and nail to remain contributing members of society is somewhat heart warming. Would this behavior be appropriate in the USA? Not really. Something on a smaller scale would be appropriate. In France? I don't think this is necessarily the horror of horrors that many are portraying it. I believe that we should be protecting property right. I believe we should let the market decide things, but there is a warning here: regardless of how you feel about Trump, he is the direct result of these same sort of people finding themselves in the same sort of situation...and none of them resorted to violence to prevent their fate. Kick the little guy enough and eventually he'll strike back by whatever means are available. People without hope are dangerous to those who are comfortable.

    • See 4 previous
    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on May 14, 2017

      @Big Al from Oz "The non wealthy workers are at the mercy of changing tech and markets." ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Wealthy or not, they are at the mercy of changing technology and markets. The wealthy ones can weather the change. Is the word "wealthy" the right one for that sentence? I don't believe so!

  • Joe K Joe K on May 14, 2017

    If its slated to close down next week one would think that the parts they make have already been found at other suppliers so it would all rather be for nothing.

  • Arthur Dailey 'The capitalists will sell use the very rope that we use to hang them.' In our household we have cut down our shopping/spending and pay more to purchase products from 1st world nations or 2nd world nations that are our 'allies'. That also means quite often only buying and eating fruit and vegetables that are in season. Just like our parents and grandparents did.At least TTAC published an article on May 21st regarding LAN transformers that contravene the Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act being used in some BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, and VW products?
  • ToolGuy I wouldn't buy any old Chinese brand of vehicle, but the right EV at the right price, maybe possibly yes. If you told me this would alarm Ford and torque off FreedMike, all the better. 😉P.S. I would *definitely* consider an EV made in Taiwan. Take that, paramount leader!P.P.S. China batteries/components to convert one of my ICE vehicles to EV? Yes.
  • Wolfwagen I expect Renault to be less popular than Fiat
  • ToolGuy Helium-3, baby!
  • Roman Our 1999 Pontiac Sunfire Gt is still running without any issues. 25 years and counting.