March 31st, 2009
03:41 PM ET

Hundreds of French workers take bosses hostage

Program Note: For more on the Catepillar controversy, tune in to AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

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Hundreds of French workers, angry about proposed layoffs at a Caterpillar factory, were holding executives of the company hostage Tuesday, a spokesman for the workers said.

It is at least the third time this month that French workers threatened with cutbacks have blockaded managers in their offices to demand negotiations. Executives were released unharmed in both previous situations.

The latest incident started Tuesday morning at the office of the construction equipment company in the southeastern city of Grenoble.

The workers were angry that Caterpillar had proposed cutting more than 700 jobs and would not negotiate, said Nicolas Benoit, a spokesman for the workers' union.

They did not want to harm the Caterpillar executives, Benoit told CNN.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Economy
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Jacqueline, NY

    LOL! Hmm..."Working 9 to 5" comes to mind.

    @KathyBradley, BTW, I agree with you. We 'the people' here in America just don't appreciate the power we have or could have if we banded together in times like these to insist, demand upon fairness. We have too many 'fraidy cats' to stand up and take charge.

    I, myself, am trying to get a transit boycott going here in NY. The MTA has decided on fare hikes and service cuts this coming June. Everyone I speak to on the subject gives the same reasons for their unwillingness to boycott: "No one else is going to do that." "What! Are you crazy? People will lose their jobs." "How will I get to work?" "I can't afford to do that." etc.

    The truth of that matter is, many of us here can't afford to let the fare hikes happen. Having to pay two separate fares, I am barely able to afford getting around as it is. I most certainly won't be able to when the fares go up - that is IF we the people of New York let it happen.

    March 31, 2009 at 9:42 pm |
  2. kathryn arevalo

    can't help being interested and impressed. These French represent more than they know. Viva la revolution!

    March 31, 2009 at 8:43 pm |
  3. Amelia

    That's so old school. Didn't Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda try that years ago?? 🙂

    March 31, 2009 at 7:08 pm |
  4. Timothy Gibson

    This is only a drip in the empty bucket of things yet to come. Perhaps we should take a lesson from the french when it comes to AIG and others who have sucked our tax dollars into their personal accounts.

    March 31, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  5. infinitegal

    GLAD SOMEBODY somewhere is doing something about this! Watch that it doesn't spead to the USA!

    March 31, 2009 at 6:00 pm |
  6. KathyBradley

    Gotta love the French. The govt. Is so afraid of them they get everything they want. We should take lessons from them!!

    March 31, 2009 at 5:30 pm |
  7. Eddie Form Los Angeles

    Send in Pepé Le Pew to negotiate!

    March 31, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  8. MI

    Wow! Times are tough indeed but is this legal?

    March 31, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  9. Isabel (Brazil)

    The employee must fight for their rights, but within peaceful means, not to lose the reason.

    March 31, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  10. Lorrie Lewis

    Living each day now knowing that I had it so good. Things are tough now all over the world. People get a little crazy. Cut em some slack. People can only take so much. We at the bottom fight each and every day like Muhammed Ali. But when it comes to our lives, our families, we float like a butterfly yet sting like a bee. We float and float and float just to make it through but when it strikes our families and the food we provide to the table, sometimes it takes stinging like a bee.

    March 31, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  11. GF, Los Angeles

    I think it's insane that workers are holding these execs hostage. How can a company keep paying a worker if there is no money?

    March 31, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  12. cira de castillio

    The let them eat cake attitude of CEOs. Cut workers, keep CEO + bonuses, and don’t adjust profit margins. As long as CEO has job all that matters. There is a WWW world wide workers revolution brewing, we are mad as hell! I love the French; at least they don't lay down and just accept it like Americans... be clear violence is not an answer but workers must get the voice out or we will be forgotten. Time to ReWrite contracts and get committed to sustainability of employment as part of the solution. Not creating unemployment to boost false profits margins.

    March 31, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  13. JC- Los Angeles

    Will the executives offer to pay ransom money with all the undeserved stock option money they always award themselves regardless of whether they do a decent job?

    March 31, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  14. Tom

    The French worker has had a good thing going for a long time. Now it’s time to pay the piper. Clearly, these workers are committing a very heinous crime by these kidnappings and hostage taking. It will be interesting to see what if any crime they are charged with. My guess is that nothing will happen to them.

    March 31, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  15. Antonio

    Wow, that's intense. Hard times in the world everywhere.

    March 31, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  16. DM73

    Bring the company back home to law and order. We don't need to manufacture there in the first place

    March 31, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  17. DM73

    Excellent. This all the more reason why caterpillar back to the United States

    March 31, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  18. abc ~ anything but california hugh

    Breaking the law by abducting company executives is wrong, but I have no sympathy for these greedy moneygrubbing white-collar crooks! How many people have lost everything due to their greed? How many of these unfortunates have died after having no healthcare after becoming homeless?

    There are whole families in my state who are living in homeless encampments. Why doesn't the federal government help out the less fortunate? They only have billions for wallstreet?! Give me a break! If CEO's start disapppearing I know I won't lose any sleep over their misfortune.

    March 31, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  19. Melissa

    This is very very bad. Things are going downhill fast. This is the symptom of corruption.

    March 31, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  20. Melinda W

    Taking the bosses hostage may not be a good idea – but it made world news and I heard about it here in Texas. Disgruntled heavy equipment operators would not have their story told otherwise.

    March 31, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  21. Yankeelin

    Obviously this is not the right approach to being heard. However, on another note, people all over the world are grasping at straws, not knowing how to fix this economy we are in, not knowing how to make things right. We try and be patient with the governments, and we try to be patient with due process, but all the time knowing the ones that get the final screw are us. The hard working every day people. We ARE the end result. It dribbles back down to us everytime. I feel sorry for their employer, and the employees. They just don't have the answers...and neither do I.

    March 31, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  22. Annie Kate

    Taking the bosses hostage may seem like a good idea but I don't think it does much to gain public sympathy or further their cause in negotiations. Unfortunately, this may be a scenario we see a lot of for a while with all the layoffs.

    March 31, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  23. Cindy

    If a company can not keep it's employees no amount of hostage taking or anything else can make the company rethink keeping them on. How do these people think that they are going to get paid? Either you have the money to keep your workers on or you don't....obviously Caterpillar doesn't. You can't make money appear out of thin air!


    March 31, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  24. Mike Syracuse, NY

    I guess this is what happens when you try to make business in a socialist economy more efficient. Hopefully Obama will learn the lesson, but i doubt it.

    March 31, 2009 at 3:48 pm |
  25. earle,florida

    Wow,this is exactly how WWll started in 1930's,not a good sign when they start taking hostages,...

    March 31, 2009 at 3:46 pm |