Plant boss held over sackings

French police arrested a British businessman yesterday after he closed a fibre-optic cable factory overnight, sacking the employees and emptying the building of all machinery and raw materials.

Paul Welch, local manager of OCT, a British company that bought the factory in Dourdan in 2002, faces charges of flouting French laws which require redundancies to be notified in advance to the government and workers' representatives.

The 15 employees arrived for work last Friday to find that the plant was empty. They were handed letters in ungrammatical French saying that they had been fired. All equipment had been stripped from the factory.

The socialist mayor of Dourdan, Yves Tavernier, said: "This is an example of the ultra-capitalist world of the Anglo-Saxons where there is no respect for the rights of employees or the right to work."

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