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From the "industrial miracle" to the "fiasco", the former Whirlpool of Amiens in search of answers

2019-11-21T14:40:51.625Z

From the "industrial miracle" to the "fiasco", the former Whirlpool of Amiens in search of answers



Amiens (AFP)

"Macron has sold the dream, we will ask him to account!": Disgusted after the liquidation this summer of WN, buyer of the factory Whirlpool Amiens, the former employees meet Friday the president to try to understand "how the + industrial miracle + has become a fiasco ".

Behind dusty glass roofs, in the huge desolate warehouse, lines on the ground, pipes and pointers testify to the old life of the factory. "There was the production of clothes dryers, it was shielded by machines, noise, odors", cowardly in a heavy silence Patrice Sinoquet, representing CFDT ex-Whirlpool.

"In the 1990s, there were more than 1000. There were 300 CDI in 2016. Today is a ghost factory," he summarizes, disappointed.

In January 2017, the American giant Whirlpool announces the relocation of the plant in Lodz (Poland). The rage of the employees, on strike, then invites itself into the presidential campaign.

Symbol of deindustrialization, the site becomes in the middle between two towers the field of a duel-surprise between Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron. Hue, the former minister of the economy promises to follow the file personally.

Among six offers, it is the industrialist Nicolas Decayeux - European leader of the manufacture of mailboxes - who "wins the bet, with a project designed for 277 employees," says Tonio Abrunhosa, former delegate CGT.

"Decayeux, local president of the Medef five futuristic projects", including the marketing of refrigerated lockers connected or battery chargers, "it seemed miraculous!", Adds Frederic Chanterelle (CFDT).

Just elected, Macron "comes back in October as a savior", the arm of a "Decaying triumphant, everyone believed!". "I hesitated to sign, but the president said to me: + It is necessary to remain, it is a beautiful project! +", Enrage Farid Baaloudj, today unemployed.

- "an endless lie" -

"All was only an endless lie, we were fooled!", Slice, bitter, Frédéric Chanterelle.

Named WN, the company hires 162 people "finding themselves quickly mowing the lawns, playing cards" or "roam the yard" for lack of orders, testifies Christophe Beaugrand, welder and ex-WN. And this, despite state aid (4 million promised, 2.5 paid) and Whirlpool (7.4 million).

"They called for help, were received at the ministry but they took several months to move.In the meantime, Decayeux assured to sign a lot of contracts," laments Mr. Abrunhosa (CGT). After a government audit, the company was finally liquidated and a new buyer, Ageco Agencement, hired in August 44 people.

Of the 138 former WN who were fired again, 23 have found a job, 106 are being followed by Pôle Emploi and 9 have finally "rebasculated" on the Whirlpool reclassification plan, according to the prefecture.

"How is such a masquerade possible, how could the state give bail, pay so much money without realizing that there was no business plan?" hammer trade unionists, denouncing a "scheme".

For Patrice Sinoquet, "this recovery + miraculous + made everyone happy": Whirlpool, a multinational that "washed its image by getting rid of a social conflict", Nicolas Decayeux, "which has touched more than 20,000 euros per month", and a government which "thus bought the social peace".

"It's so easy to say + there is a crisis and you have not anticipated it", but according to the business plan, "the money had to start coming back in 2019 (...) and we launched an audit on the accounts three months later ", had defended in July the Secretary of State for the Economy Agnès Pannier-Runacher, judging that an entrepreneurial project that fails, it" happens every day ".

Contacted by AFP, Mr. Decayeux did not respond. Whirlpool said his plan was "in accordance with the law". While an investigation for "misuse of social assets" was opened by the public prosecutor of Amiens, the lawyer of the ex-employees contests with the prud'hommes the economic motive of the dismissals pronounced and initiated a procedure "in responsibility" with TGI of Amiens.

"In 2018, I would have been entitled to 12,000 euros of training, 15,000 euros to mount my box .. I have nothing today!", Farid Baaloudj loose. "There is more than a hundred in the street," sighs Emmanuel Schroeven, "unemployed and desperate".

For Christophe Beaugrand, who was taken over by Ageco, "Macron has not followed this case every month and will have to explain why."

© 2019 AFP

Source: france24

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