PARIS — When negotiations over the revamping ofCaterpillar’s operations in the French city of Grenoble broke down this week, the workers did what more and more of their countrymen are doing these days: They took their bosses hostage.
It was the fourth such incident in France in the last month.
This week, François-Henri Pinault, the chief executive of PPR, the group that owns Gucci, was trapped by a group of employees who surrounded his car and blocked the road with garbage cans.
In two other incidents last month, workers at a 3M plant held their boss for more than 24 hours in a labor dispute, and workers at a Sonyplant held their boss overnight to gain better severance packages.
While detaining company executives against their will is not new in France, the tactic has been used only sparingly. But French labor policy experts say they expect more such actions because the despair and anxiety that drive employees to such acts is increasing as the labor market worsens.
“The traditional way of holding a strike is to occupy the workplace, showing that ‘it’s our company, too,’ ” said Antoine Lyon-Caen, a professor of comparative labor law at the University of Paris-Nanterre. “It’s not unheard-of that the managers get taken hostage, but it has been very rare.”