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(BERTRAND GUAY/AFP)
(BERTRAND GUAY/AFP)

French workers threaten to blow up Nortel plant Add to ...

Workers at the French arm of telecommunications manufacturer Nortel Networks Corp. have threatened to blow up their factory unless they secure decent layoff terms, but gas cylinders placed around the plant were empty, a newspaper said.

French daily Le Parisien said on Wednesday the workers had placed gas cylinders in front of the plant in the Yvelines area near Paris, where 480 jobs are set to be axed following bankruptcy proceedings.

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In the second threat by French workers to blow up a factory in a week, the paper said the workers had threatened to stage an explosion as early as Wednesday if their demands were not met, but said the gas cylinders were empty.

No immediate comment was available from Toronto-based Nortel, once the largest North American telecommunications equipment manufacturer but which filed for bankruptcy protection in Canada and the United States in January.

The workers were also bitter about the way the authorities handling the case in France were proceeding, the paper said.

"We are exasperated by the practices of the administrator. A meeting was planned yesterday, but it was cancelled at the last minute," the paper cited one union member as saying on Tuesday.

"It is not the first time. They have been stringing us along for four days. They have no respect for us," the union member said.

Speaking on LCI television, Labour Minister Xavier Darcos pledged to find solutions for the workers.

"We are going to speak to each other, we will find solutions that do not require resorting to extreme violence," he said.

The factory protest is the second of its kind in recent days.

Workers at collapsed French car parts maker New Fabris made similar threats on Sunday, demanding that receive payouts by July 31 from auto groups Renault SA and PSA Peugeot Citroen to compensate for their lost jobs.

Such threats of violence could become a strategy of disgruntled workers, who have detained managers at factories across the country in recent months in a spate of so-called "boss-napping" incidents.



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