River Held Hostage: Disgruntled French Workers Threaten to Dump Toxic Waste in Seine
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I'm usually in favor of organized labor making headlines. And I've even chuckled at the recent spate of boss-nappings in France. Heck, I've greatly admired the passionate and creative ways in which the French have managed to counteract economic fallout. But this latest news is too much for me. And will be for the fish as well.
Angry lorry drivers at Serta, a struggling transportation company, are threatening to pour more than 8,000 litres of toxic fuel additive into the Seine if their demands for redundancy pay-offs are not met. Acknowledging the "dramatic" effect this could have on the river's fish population, they insist they will not be dissuaded unless their bosses give in. ...
Around 50 workers at the distribution site at La Vaupalière near Rouen are demanding severance packages of 15,000 euros after Serta, which went into administration a year ago, announced job cuts. The transportation company, which has suffered badly in the financial crisis, has already cut around 80 jobs since the start of the year.
Their threat to flood with the harmful substance their on-site drainage system - designed to channel rainwater back into the Seine - is the latest tactic used by workers desperate to draw attention to their plight.
Apparently they might be following the lead of a group of workers nearly decade ago who threatened another river with sulphuric acid and ended up with a handsome settlement.
Leave it to Greenpeace to actually see a silver-lining in all this:
Antoine Faucher, campaign director of Greenpeace France, said the threats, though worrying, were in fact a reflection of growing concern for the environment. "It's significant because today, perhaps unlike previous years, the environment is recognised in itself as a resource," he said. "To take it hostage may be of greater value now than it was before."
Tara Lohan is a managing editor at AlterNet.