Calais: Danone Layoffs : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Nando Times

Thousands protest Danone layoffs in Calais

By FREDERIC LEPINAY, Associated Press

CALAIS, France (April 21, 2001 7:33 p.m. EDT) - In a northern French city that leftist politicians have dubbed the "capital of the resistance" to globalization, at least 15,000 people protested job cuts Saturday outside a Danone cookie-making factory.

Protesters waved red flags as Communist party leader Robert Hue led a march through Calais's streets to a plant that makes Lu brand cookies - one of two Danone plants in France marked for closure.

The French food giant plans to shut down 16 of its 36 European cookie-making factories and lay off about 1,800 workers as part of a restructuring.

Disgruntled workers traveled from Austria and Italy to join Saturday's protest, which police estimated drew 15,000 people. Organizers put the number at more than 30,000.

A Communist party official said about 200 buses had been chartered to deliver Danone employees from around the country to the rally in this economically depressed city.

A banner draped across Calais' city hall read: "Calais - Capital of the Resistance to Capitalist Globalization." Calais' Communist Mayor Jacky Henin was among several politicians taking part in the protest.

Hue called on the government to protect workers who faced dismissal and to ban layoffs at companies that posted profits.

Danone's long-anticipated restructuring was announced last month, shortly after the company released strong year-end earnings, prompting anger in France, which will suffer the largest number of layoffs.

-- Rachel Gibson (, April 21, 2001

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