French workers frustrated over salary negotiations are blocking the world’s biggest Nutella factory in Normandy. (Associated Press)

French workers frustrated over salary negotiations are blocking the world’s biggest Nutella factory in Normandy. (Associated Press)

Quelle horreur! Labor strife threatens world’s Nutella supply

Workers are blocking the gates at the French factory where the chocolate-hazelnut spread is made

Associated Press

PARIS — No more Nutella?! French workers are threatening as much, bringing the world’s biggest Nutella factory to a near-standstill in a showdown over salary negotiations.

Tensions have been mounting at the site in Villers-Ecalles in Normandy, where activists from the Workers’ Force union have been barring trucks from entering or leaving the factory for a week.

The plant produces a staggering 600,000 jars of the chocolate and hazelnut spread every day — a quarter of the world’s output of a product cherished by children and adults alike.

After a six-day standoff, Nutella owner Ferrero on Monday started threatening fines for workers involved in the blockade, according to a company statement. Unions and the company say the blockade has nearly halted production, though it was unclear if — or when — that might create shortages in the global market.

The prospect of fines didn’t deter unions. Workers’ Force says 160 of the factory’s 350 workers are taking part in a walkout to demand 4.5% salary increases, one-time 900-euro bonuses and better working conditions.

“It’s war, anger is mounting,” union activist Fabien Lacabanne said in a statement.

He said the company agreed to a 1.7% raise for the lowest paid workers, and one-time bonuses between zero and 400 euros, which unions say isn’t enough given rising living costs. Unions also complain of deteriorating factory conditions and increasing pressure to be more productive.

Italian-owned Ferrero said it is trying to protect workers who aren’t on strike, and wants to resume dialogue — but not until the workers stop blocking the factory.

The next negotiation meeting is scheduled for June 13.

French workers frequently go on strike during salary negotiations and occasionally resort to more dramatic methods. The last strike to hit the Villers-Ecalles factory was in 2011.

The action comes amid anger among many low-income French workers at pro-business policies by President Emmanuel Macron seen as favoring the rich — and that prompted the yellow vest protest movement.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Paine Field gets $5M grant to remedy a CARES Act oversight

Shortchanged earlier, the Snohomish County airport is the recipient of a new federal grant.

‘Better with Boeing’ campaign aims to keep 787 assembly here

A new marketing effort hopes to persuade the company to keep Dreamliner work in Everett.

Amazon’s buying spree of used planes goes against green pledge

Airlines are being spurred to hasten the retirement of their oldest, fuel-guzzling aircraft.

An update: We’re proud and humbled by our readers’ support

The Daily Herald investigative fund has grown, and now we’re working to expand environmental coverage.

Commentary: The 737 Max debacle won’t be the end of Boeing

The plane may actually be the bright spot in Boeing’s airliners business.

Panel blasts Boeing, FAA for ‘horrific culmination’ of failures

Investigators found that the company had a financial incentive to avoid more pilot training.

Marysville offers another round of CARES Act grants

Funds are available for those who need help paying for housing or business expenses amid COVID-19.

Port again wins millions in grant money for mill site revamp

The Port of Everett successfully reapplied for federal funding after losing $15.5 million last year.

737 Max engineer didn’t know details of flight control system

The program’s leaders only assumed pilots would react differently to the triggering of the MCAS.

Everett company faces $230,000 fine for safety violations

State inspectors allege that Chilos Builders exposed workers to hazards at area construction sites.

Unemployment system overwhelmed by users and new claims

The state Employment Security Department couldn’t process all the new information, leaving users frustrated.

Boeing 737 Max moves another step closer to returning

Test flights were performed from Vancouver to get around coronavirus-related U.S. travel curbs.