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French 'bossnappers' hold media execs

Joshua Melvin · 29 Jan 2014, 12:39

Published: 29 Jan 2014 12:39 GMT+01:00

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Workers at a French newspaper group were holding two senior executives hostage on Wednesday in the latest in a wave of "bossnapping" protests by employees facing lay-offs.

About 25 workers at the Centre France/La Montagne media group were holding company head Gilles Cremillieux and human resources chief Jerome Riviere at the headquarters of the La Republique du Centre newspaper in the town of Saran in central France.

Cremillieux told AFP in a text message that the two executives had been held since Tuesday evening.

Discontent has been simmering since the Centre France/La Montagne group, which employs some 1,200 people, announced plans to close a printing centre and lay off 78 workers, in line with efforts to increasingly focus on electronic media.

The workers have been on strike since January 18 over the amount of severance pay offered. Christophe Bourdeau, a spokesman for the workers, said the two executives were being "held without violence" and had not been harmed.

"The management on Tuesday night proposed a sum of between 7,000 and 7,500 euros and this was a real provocation for us," he said.

The workers are demanding 62,000 euros ($84,000) for each employee laid off. Earlier this month, workers at a Goodyear tyre factory in northern France held two executives captive for close to 30 hours to protest the closure of the plant.

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They later signed a pact with the US firm that significantly improved the redundancy packages on offer. There were at least two other incidents of "bossnappings" last year although the practice is not as common as it was at the height of the financial crisis five to six years ago.

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed to stamp it out but failed to take any concrete action and militants employing the tactic know they are unlikely to face any serious legal repercussions

Joshua Melvin (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

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