They camped in their factory all night. This Wednesday morning, 80 employees of the Gardanne biomass plant were still on site in conditions denounced by management.
“80 individuals entered hooded by breaking and entering armed with weapons (…) such as telescopic batons, tear gas, baseball bats and bladed weapons”, details GazelEnergie in a press release.
The group would have entered the premises and barricaded themselves inside, according to management. The CGT confirms the entry of a hundred people on the site, affirming that it is “a protection of the work tool and the industrial site”.
The site is Seveso classified. “It has been three weeks that we alert, the Dréal, the sub-prefect, the mayor of Gardanne, and the Labor Inspectorate, no one answers us while the security of the site has not been guaranteed since August”, says Nadir Hadjali, CGT representative.
Faced with what they believe to be a risk for the employees on the site and the neighboring residents, the employees returned to “ensure the protection of the site”.
According to the union, “since the first letters of dismissal, the management has not provided sufficient staff to run the biomass plant and ensure its safety”.
“The employees who were in post received a message from the management asking them to leave their post and return home”, indicates the CGT. “We are open to any discussion, so that the biomass turns, so that the site remains industrialized and that the employees who have lost their jobs are rehired”, specifies the union.
Owned by the GazelEnergie group, the plant located near Aix-en-Provence is one of the last four coal-fired power plants in France, whose closure is scheduled for 2022 due to their negative impact on the climate.
At the end of July, the administrative court of Cergy-Pontoise had validated the Employment Protection Plan (PSE) providing for the elimination of 98 jobs out of 154, due to the cessation of coal.
The biomass unit which replaces it and in which some 300 million euros have been invested represents around 80 direct jobs, according to GazelEnergie.
The management announced that it had lodged a complaint with the gendarmerie and asked the police to evacuate the site.