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

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
keep us in business or well blow everything up french supplier to automakers

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]

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  • 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.

  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).