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French workers reject India transfer: unions

Workers at Lemaitre Securite, which manufactures safety boots, have turned down a proposal that they transfer to India at a monthly salary of 700 euros (990 dollars), union and management sources said Wednesday.

world Updated: Jul 29, 2009 17:21 IST

Workers at Lemaitre Securite, which manufactures safety boots, have turned down a proposal that they transfer to India at a monthly salary of 700 euros (990 dollars), union and management sources said Wednesday.

The head of the family-owned company in eastern France, Charles Heckel, said a plan to cut 42 of 117 jobs was adopted in June in response to the financial crisis and a contracting market.

But the plan also proposed the transfer of workers to India, where the Rahman group, which has a 50 percent stake in Lemaitre, is located.

Those accepting the offer would work under Indian labour law for 700 euros a month, starting in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Heckel acknowledged that the proposal was "weak" but "hardly indecent with respect to what an Indian worker earns.

"Seven hundred euros in India -- that's almost 10 times what an Indian would make" at an equivalent job.

Nonetheless no worker at Lemaitre accepted the offer, which was valid until July 1.

The CFTC trade union denounced what it called "medieval" working conditions embodied in the proposal.

"Rather than raising salaries in emerging countries, French workers would be sent to these countries for a miserable wage under local Indian working conditions," it said in a statement.

Lemaitre, which suffered a 30 percent decline in its operations in the first quarter, has for years struggled with counterfeit imports from Asia.