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Workers From Peugeot Plant in Aulnay Occupy Seat of Metal Trades Bosses

Translated Monday 11 March 2013, by Gene Zbikowski

Nearly 200 workers from the Peugeot plant in Aulnay-sous-Bois, a Paris suburb, occupied the seat of the Union of the Industries and Trades of the Metal Industry (UIMM), the bosses association in the metal trades, in Paris on the morning of March 8. They are protesting plans to close the factory in 2014.

“We’ve decided to occupy the UIMM seat to protest against the fact that Peugeot refuses to negotiate, and against the government which makes itself management’s accomplice by refusing to name a mediator,” the CGT trade union steward at the Aulnay factory, Jean-Pierre Mercier, told Reuters.

“We’ve gone inside and we’re not coming out until our demands have been heard. We want a permanent job for everyone and early retirement for those 55 and over,” the CGT leader at the factory added.

The Aulnay Peugeot workers, who have been on strike for the past eight weeks, are increasing the number of spectacular actions undertaken to protest against the closing of the factory, which employs 2,800, planned for 2014. On March 6 some of them, led by Jean-Pierre Mercier, invited themselves to the Labor Ministry to demand the nomination of a mediator, thus rejecting the role of conciliator played by Marc Leray, the director of Labor in the Seine Saint Denis département.

Now, two days later, the demonstrators came with a banner reading “No to the closing of Peugeot in Aulnay” to the seat of the UIMM, in answer to a call from the CGT, SUD and CFDT trade unions at the Aulnay plant. They posted signs in the lobby of the building.

“We are workers, we aren’t vandals, the bosses are the vandals,” they chanted in the hall of the seat of the metal trades bosses, which is presided over by Frédéric Saint-Geours, who is also the third-ranking boss at Peugeot.

“The fact that some trade union organizations validated the agreement on the Aulnay plant, which is rejected by the rank and file, does not make that agreement any better in the eyes of the workers who are going to be thrown out of work,” Jean-Pierre Mercier stated.

“The bosses and the government must take the situation in Aulnay seriously. We are determined. We want a guarantee of employment,” explained Mohammed Diver, a worker at the plant.

According to the planned redundancy scheme, the PSA Peugeot Citroën corporation is to transfer 1,300 of the 2,800 Aulnay autoworkers to other factories, and mainly to the Poissy factory 18 miles east of Paris.

The corporation will propose to the other 1,500 workers that they take a job at companies like ID Logistics, ADP, and the SNCF, thanks to job transition mechanisms. At present 1,000 possible job openings have been identified. The Aulnay-sous-Bois factory has been paralyzed since January 16 by a strike called by the CGT, to which the CFDT and SUD trade union locals at that plant have rallied.

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