Buitoni, Tereos: mobilization against closures threatening more than 300 jobs
“No to closure”: the employees of Tereos in Escaudoeuvres and Buitoni in Caudry expressed their anger on Monday at the closure, recorded or announced, of their factories which employ more than 300 people in Cambrésis, which is opposed the Minister of Industry.
In the morning, up to half a thousand people, employees, elected officials and residents, gathered in front of the Caudry factory, where the frozen pizzas suspected of having caused the death of two children and the poisoning of dozens of others by the bacterium Escherichia coli.
Some were in work clothes – helmet, white coat and plastic gloves – others cracked smoke bombs or brandished makeshift signs on large white sheets: “Between lies and treason, let’s save our jobs” or ” Nestlé must assume”.
Nearly 200 people are employed in this factory, whose activity Nestlé has just suspended, due to a drop in sales. A meeting on March 30 could definitely seal his fate.
“There are many who still believe in it, but for me, it’s over,” said Jérémy Denimal, 28, an employee for 7 years, among the protesters. “I am here mainly to demonstrate for my colleagues who are between 40 and 55 years old. For them, it will be hard to find a job”.
– “Shame” –
One of these former, Emilie Ribeiro, 35 years at Buitoni, now confides her “ashamed to work for them”. “With them, it’s the money (that counts). They have no empathy for the families (of the victims of the contaminated pizzas, editor’s note), nor for us”, she regrets.
“Employees must in no case be the collateral victims of a tragedy for which they are not responsible”, launches on the spot the Minister of Industry, Roland Lescure, greeted by applause.
After speaking with management, he claims to have “given him 15 days” to “come back with concrete solutions”. “I want us to produce in Caudry. Pizzas or something else,” he insists.
Behind L’Oréal, Buitoni is the city’s second largest job provider. Its mayor, Frédéric Bricout, has made a suggestion: that the group’s factories closed in Ukraine — “Smarties, KitKat” — be relocated there.
– “Not normal” –
Same anger at Escaudoeuvres, about fifteen kilometers away, where the employees of the sugar giant Tereos have been blocking their factory day and night since Wednesday, to protest against its closure. A delegation must meet at the town hall in the afternoon Mr. Lescure.
In the meantime, around thirty employees are fueling fires with wood and various materials, enveloping the site in a large plume of black smoke.
“We hope, we will fight to the end,” says David Le Clainche, CGT delegate.
About 400 elected officials, employees and residents gathered in front of the sugar refinery on Sunday. “It’s incomprehensible (to close) a factory as profitable as ours”, regretted Loïc Lagouche, CGT deputy secretary at the CSE. “Tereos only thinks in the short term.”
The site of the group, owner of Béghin Say, was soon to celebrate its 150th anniversary in this town of 3,300 inhabitants on the outskirts of Cambrai. Management announced Wednesday its closure by mid-June, and the elimination of 123 positions.
According to the sugar producer, this choice is essentially dictated by a “sustainable reduction” in beet production in 2023-24, with, in the Escaudoeuvres sector, a drop in sown areas of more than 10%.
The General Confederation of Beet Planters (CGB) points to “the ban on neonicotinoids” as the main explanation for this decline.
“A company that makes money and closes a factory, I think that’s not normal,” reacted Mr. Lescure in the morning on the Sud Radio antenna.
“For the moment, the production of beets has not dropped. For the moment, the famous aphid, it has not struck”, pointed out the minister.