4 October 2002
"Newell Window Fasion inc" is a corporatation specialized in window furnishing. The foundry of Negrepelisse -a small village near Montauban, in the south west of France - products metal objects, for windows, blinds and locksmith activities.
The factory belongs to the american global corporation Newell-Rubbermaid (Rubbermaid, Parker/Eldon pens, Little tikes -Gracco toys, Calphalon Wearever cookware, Levolor/Kirch House hardware).
In January 2000, Rubbermaid bought the Newell plants (4 are located in France, one in Spain and there should be a plant in UK too.).
At the beginning of the summer, just before he left for holidays, the boss told to the workers that he decided to close down (at least) two of the french sites : Negrepelisse and Ablis, in the Paris belt. The closure will be effective for Christmas 2002. The "redundancy plan" is the lowest we can imagine : just the minimal legally. The workers will receive a redundancy payment pay of 6 days for each year worked in the factory. So, for a 15 years worker, it means less than 5 months of wage !
This summer, the anger was growing inside the 33 people workforce. Amongst them, there is a small group of CNT members and sympathizers. They were making a discreet and underground union work. At the end of august, the boss sent threat letters to some workers, because he noticed they were talking each others. The metalworkers have had enough.
The 20th of September, the workers decided to react. They call for a meeting to prepare the struggle, and ask the CNT-AIT to join to help them. This meeting has been a huge success : workers recover strenght and courage, we have talked about dignity and solidarity.
We have to be quick, because there is a board of directors on the 24th of September. The 23th, the plant’s door is jamed by the village Support Comity. This Support Comity is composed of workers relatives, pensioners, village retailers, and so on. (All people who do not risk a lot of repression.) The closure of the factory is a disaster for such a small village like Negrepelisse; many factories closed down in the recent past. So the solidarity is spontanneous. The lorries are blocked. The Supoprt Comity empeachs the workers to enter the factory, so the workers, outside the factory, took advantage to debate between them and decide of their demands. The direction, who was so arrogant just one week ago, is now paralysed ! The 24th is it the same scene. There is a great ambiance : there is a lot of sun, the village’s retailers bring good provisions of food. The representative of the local deputy (MP) come, but the workers ask him to go away because they don’t want there movement to be exploited by a political party.
In the local press also the battle is going on : the newspaper "Depeche du Midi" choosed the boss side. They write shit in their newspaper about the struggle, the workers and the Support Comity. They told that the proof that the Comity is unstructured is that there is no president at its head ! The Comity reply by a leaflet, explaining that they do not need a president to be structured, because all decisions are collectively taken in General Assembly. The other local newspaper "Le Journal du Tarn" write much more balanced articles - and attacks the unfair articles of its competitor, prooving it lies. The 25th, after just 3 days of jamming, the boss had to accept to negociate. But what he propose is not enough. Now, the workers want a redundancy pay of 12 month of wage for all, plus one month per year in the factory. The boss refused.
On the 1st of October, after new General Assemblies, workers decided to go further in the struggle : they are now formally in strike, and the factory is occupied. On the 3d of October, after 3 days of strike, the boss made a new proposal, but it is still not enough. The General Assembly decide to maintain the movement.
During this time, some contacts have been made with the other sites of Newell. The Ablis site, which will also close at the end of this year, is now also in the movement. They are in strike, together with Negrepelisse, and workers of the two factories try to coordinate their action.
Actually, they are almost 100 people on strike. They call for support to their struggle. You can send them solidarity messages (letters please, it is more "human" than email ...). Financial help is also welcome.
Please, send it to
7 rue St Rémésy
Tel / Fax : +33 561 52 86 48
Checks : order to CNT, with « Newell solidarity » on the back.
Adapted by International Secretary CNT-f AIT, from Newell Support Comity and CNT AIT infos.
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