By Denna Bowman
Work has been suspended at the troubled Continental tyres factory in northern France after angry employees went on a wrecking spree after losing a court battle to stop its closure.
Tempers have run high amongst workers since it was announced that the Clairoix plant is set for closure in 2010 due to plummeting tyres sales caused by the recession.
But the staff erupted in anger yesterday after a court rejected a motion brought by factory employees to block the closure.
They smashed windows and destroyed equipment at the plant which employs 1,120 workers, and also the regional administration officers in nearby Compiegne.
On Wednesday, factory management distributed fliers reading: “We have no other choice but to suspend production as well as the whole of the site’s activities until further notice.”
The rampage prompted fresh concern about the increasingly violent French worker protests.
The French government condemned the action. Budget Minister Eric Woerth branded the sacking of the regional administration “unacceptable”.
He told Europe 1 radio: “To go ransack the state’s property when the state is the only recourse for all of these employees, it’s rather paradoxical.
“This needs to stop.”
However, there are reports that the workers at the Clairoix site have booked 14 railway cars and will travel to the German city of Hanover to protest at Thursday’s Continental general shareholders’ meeting.