Senior managers of French safety shoe and professional footwear manufacturer Jallatte have been held hostage by staff following the announcement of a redundancy and restructuring programme.
 
The firm, which is owned by Italian group JAL, is planning to shed 285 staff from its total French workforce of 336, transferring all production to Tunisia.
 
The programme was presented to Jalatte's work council at the firm's plant in Saint-Hippolyte-du-Fort, in southern France.

The furious protest that ensued yesterday (31 May) saw four of its top executives, including JAL's managing director Giovanni Falco, held captive for several hours. They were only let free when Falco agreed to postpone a launch meeting arranged for next week until the end of June.
 
Falco was set to take part in a meeting with workers representatives and local and regional government officials late afternoon on Thursday to discuss the cutback measures.
 
Most of JAL's manufacturing is already carried out in Tunisia where a pair of safety shoes can be produced for around EUR8.29 (US$11.1) cheaper than France.
 
According to latest figures published by Jallatte, the company posted a turnover of EUR79m in 2004 turning out 3.5m pairs of shoes.

By Stuart Todd.