Police Watchful Over Caterpillar Protest In France

As tense negotiations over plans to layoff hundreds at two Caterpillar sites in France drag on, police officers were deployed to ensure workers could get to their jobs.

GRENOBLE, France (AP) -- Police deployed Thursday at a plant in the French Alps run by U.S. manufacturer Caterpillar where workers camped out overnight to protest layoffs.

Workers at Caterpillar's two French plants in and near Grenoble are seeking a better deal in a plan to cut hundreds of jobs at the sites -- part of thousands of layoffs at the company's worldwide operations prompted by the economic downturn.

Last month, French Caterpillar workers held four managers hostage for more than 24 hours to get their complaints heard.

As tense negotiations over the layoff plan drag on, about 50 workers camped out Wednesday night in tents in front of the site in the Grenoble suburb of Echirolles.

On Thursday, about 15 police officers were deployed to ensure that workers could get to their jobs.

Caterpillar France says the layoffs are justified.

In February, the Peoria, Illinois-based company said it was facing a 55 percent loss of orders between 2008 and 2009.

Unease and radical protest actions have been spreading across France as more jobs are lost to recession.

More in Labor