Angry workers at a Renault factory in northwest France took seven managers hostage overnight for approximately 12 hours.
Around 350 workers are continuing to blockade the Fonderie de Bretagne in Brittany, in an attempt to prevent the closure of the foundry that makes car parts for the French car giant. However, the aforementioned hostages were released at approximately 10:30pm local time.
The blockade reached a head on Tuesday when the protesting workers refused to let the seven managers leave the factory, in a move “strongly condemned” by Renault.
“The Renault Group strongly condemns these actions and requires the lifting of the blockage and a direct return to calm,” the carmaker said in a statement.
But the call for ‘calm’ has not been heeded, with Nicolas Guillemette, a representative for the union representing the workers, the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), telling French radio, "I think that if this is to be our last stand, I assure you that everyone will remember it.”
Renault said it was looking for a buyer for the foundry in order to "maintain activity at the site and safeguard jobs. This process must continue with dialogue and calm.”
However, the secretary of the of the CGT, Mael Le Goff, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) Renault wasn’t interested in ‘dialogue’ with the workers or their union.
“They still didn't want to have a dialogue so it was pointless trying to talk to people who don't want to engage," he told AFP.
"We would like to ask them what will become of us, if we are sold, if we are made redundant.
“We have been waiting for a year. We no longer have too much hope," he said.
The Renault factory remains closed, with picketing workers continuing to demand that the French carmaker scraps its plans for the sale of the foundry.
It’s not the first time protesting workers have taken aim at management in France. In 2015, angry Air France employees attacked several executives at the airline’s headquarters in France, stripping one manager naked to the waist in front of TV cameras and leaving another with his clothes in tatters. Several people were charged, with three protesters receiving suspended prison sentences.