Worker buyout at shoe factory

Download article in original language : FR9801191NFR.DOC

A January 1998 ruling by the Commercial Court in Paris has enabled some of the former workers of a Bally shoe factory to take it over and restart production.

In September 1996, a Bally factory located in Villeurbanne in the Rhône départementwent into receivership. Later, in June 1997, the firm went into liquidation and was forced to shut down, making all 206 employees redundant. Months of sit-ins and petitioning of the Government and local authorities ensued before a solution could be found - a plan for a worker buyout of the factory put forward by two former employees. On 5 January 1998, the Commercial Court in Paris approved the proposal.

In order to be able to take over the factory and put up the necessary capital, the 70 new employees (all of whom were former Bally workers) have invested their severance pay and become shareholders in the new company. The local representatives of CGT, the only trade union represented in the company, largely supported the initiative, and the Rhône -Alpes regional authority has awarded a subsidy of FRF 1 million. Prior to the summer of 1996, the factory had turned out nearly 270,000 pairs of shoes annually but the new owners are today counting on an annual production of 90,000 pairs, two-thirds of which will be manufactured by subcontractors.

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