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Molex closes factory over workers' protest

Article published on the 2009-08-06 Latest update 2009-08-06 11:59 TU

Molex, whose factory in Villemer-sur-Tarn has been temporarily closed, specialises in interconnect products

Molex, whose factory in Villemer-sur-Tarn has been temporarily closed, specialises in interconnect products

US electronic parts company Molex announced on Thursday that it is temporarily closing one of its factories in south-west France. The company said it took the decision in order to guarantee the safety of employees, claiming that a senior staff member was attacked by striking workers on Tuesday evening.

Molex alleges that the development director Eric Doesburg was kicked and punched as he left the factory in Villemer-sur-Tarn, near Toulouse, on Tuesday evening. However, employees say they only jostled Doesburg and threw eggs at him and two security guards.

Molex said that Doesburg, who currently uses a walking stick after a recent knee operation, was given seven days medical leave after consulting a doctor. The company lodged a complaint with police against four workers and they appeared in court in connection with the incident on Thursday.

Workers have been on strike since 7 July in protest at plans to close the factory in October and relocate production to the United States. Doesburg was in France for talks over the fate of the 283 employees who stand to lose their jobs.

"We will not compromise on the safety and well-being of our employees," Molex chief executive Martin Slark said in a statement issued from the company’s headquarters in Illinois. "We are very concerned not only by the violent actions of some employees at this site but by the complete lack of support from law enforcement authorities when people were being physically attacked.”

Around 50 workers gathered outside the factory on Thursday to voice their concern about the temporary closure.

"In my opinion, whatever the management says, the factory was closed to create fear among people. It’s a warning,” said Thierry Bonhoure of the Force Ouvrière trade union.

He said the workers’ protests were legitimate. “We want to minimise the number of redundancies… because it’s not being closed for economic reasons – it’s purely strategic.”

French Industry Minister Christian Estrosi condemned the attack.  

 "These acts of violence do a disservice to the workers' cause and make negotiations even more difficult," he said.

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