Conti Clairoix Workers Face Property Damage Charges
Several hundred employees from Continental AG’s Clairoix facility in France assembled outside a courthouse on July 17 during the appearance of seven of their colleagues. The seven workers were answering charges related to property damage at a regional government office in April. If found guilty, the accused face up to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to 75,000 euros.
The seven are accused of stormed the office in April following the Clairoix factory’s announced closure. Furniture and computers were thrown from windows and files were removed from cabinets and strewn about. Authorities estimate that around 40,000 euros worth of damage occurred.
Co-defendant, CGT union representative Xavier Mathieu, conceded in court that a “lapse” had occurred, but the action was not planned. “It was a burst of rage,” he said. “I hope that the judges will show leniency.” He feared, however, that the court would make “an example” of them following the spate of hostage takings and bomb threats against factories that have punctuated French industrial relations in recent months. “If there are convictions, it would be very hard for my comrades to come to terms with it,” Mathieu warned.
The opposition Socialist party voiced its support for the seven. Party spokesman Benoît Hamon called for their acquittal. Speaking to the radio station RMC, Hamon said that the court must take workers’ distressed, caused by their job losses, into consideration. And while the court was busy meting out justice against redundant employees, he added, the “financial criminals” responsible for destroying their jobs remain unpunished.