French Workers End Threat To Blow Up Factory

PARIS (AP) -- Laid-off workers at an auto parts factory in central France abandoned a threat to blow up their workplace Friday after the government promised to top up their severance pay.

The New Fabris workers agreed to the terms offered by French Industry Minister Christian Estrosi -- an extra severance package of euro12,000 ($16,900) per worker.

"After weeks of conflict, it's social dialogue that won," Estrosi said on Friday, the deadline the workers had set for an agreement. The minister added that both parties were able to work toward the same goal which was to "offer each worker in this difficult time, the means to plan for their future and recover their dignity by finding a new job."

Of the 235 workers present, 204 voted for the severance package and promised not to destroy the building.

A few days after last month's announcement that 366 New Fabris employees were being laid off, workers had placed gas canisters around the building, threatening to blow up the car parts maker if they didn't receive more generous severance packages. They blamed Renault and PSA Peugeot-Citroen for their plight and requested that the automakers give each worker euro30,000 ($42,200).

Union leaders recently met with representatives from both car makers as well as Estrosi but weren't happy with the amount offered.

The angry workers burned machines outside their workplace and continued to threaten to blow up the building.

After a recent meeting with union leaders, Estrosi offered severance pay of euro11,000 and said more than 200 employees had already accepted a "transition package" by which the state guarantees that workers get 95 percent of their wages for the next 12 months.

On Friday, Estrosi agreed to increase the payout to euro12,000 ($16,900) per worker.

Workers at other companies around the country kidnapped their bosses earlier this year to protest layoffs and others -- copying their New Fabris counterparts -- recently threatened to destroy their workplaces as well before agreements were reached defusing tensions.

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