Employees of the engine parts maker New Fabris have rigged up a series of gas canisters inside a factory workshop which they say will be detonated on July 31 if the two carmakers fail to pay €30,000 to each of the 366 workers facing unemployment.
Earlier this year France was hit by a wave of boss-nappings, where workers held factory managers hostage, sometimes for several days, to force better redundancy payoffs or protest at factory closures. Most ended without violent incident.
However there is real concern within the government that tensions could rise in the autumn, when unemployment and company failures are expected to increase sharply, especially in the car parts sector - hard hit by the automobile crisis. There is already widespread resentment at bailouts for banks and carmakers, while the government has refused to consider a fiscal stimulus package to boost consumer spending.