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French factory workers in last-ditch plea to Obama

Ben McPartland · 26 Feb 2013, 16:00

Published: 26 Feb 2013 10:46 GMT+01:00
Updated: 26 Feb 2013 16:00 GMT+01:00

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The last time an American was asked to intervene to help out an ailing French plant it sparked an international row and deep soul-searching over France's work culture.

But workers at a foundry in Vaux, central France will be desperately hoping the man they have asked to come to the rescue is more cooperative than the CEO of the American tyre firm, Maurice Taylor.

In a last ditch effort to force bosses to meet their demands for compensation, the 168 employees at the DMI foundry, which makes metal parts for cars, have written a two page plea letter to President Barack Obama.

The plant has gone into receivership and with a deadline set for March 4th time is running out for a buyer to be found.

The desperate workers want Obama, who is struggling to kick start the US economy, to use his unrivaled clout to apply pressure on Platinum Equity, which is the main US shareholder in DMI.

“Mr President, in France, the law provides that in such circumstances shareholders are subject to certain obligations, including those that require assistance to be given to employees who are laid off,” the letter reads.

“Up until now, despite our different demands, the group remains silent and has not listened to us. Please allow us to ask for your intervention with Platinum Equity so that they become aware of French law.

“It is inconceivable not to compensate the workers,” reads the letter which was signed by Didier Verrier, the CGT union delegate.

It was members of the same CGT union who last week were called “nutcases” by Obama’s compatriot Taylor.

The jibe was in a letter to the French Minister for Industrial Recovery Arnaud Montebourg who had asked Taylor to invest in the doomed Goodyear tyre plant in the northern town of Amiens.

Taylor told Montebourg he would have to be "stupid" to invest in the factory where workers only “put in three hours a day”.

Story continues below…

Workers at the Vaux foundry, who previously threatened to blow up the plant if their demands were not met, will be hoping Obama sees them in a more positive light.

Employees have also written a separate letter to Montebourg demanding he put pressure on Renault, which is the main buyer of the parts.

DMI invested €10 million euros in the plant, when they bought it last year, but now claim they can no longer finance the plant after the cancellation of a major contract.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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