French workers ransack car factory

Concerns are growing over increasingly violent French worker protests as staff at a car parts factory ransacked offices in anger over job losses.

The protesters smashed windows and destroyed equipment at the Clairoix plant and local government offices in nearby Compiegne after a French court ruled that the factory's planned closure next year by German owners Continental was legal.

Leaflets were distributed by managers distributed today, which read: "We have no other choice but to suspend production as well as the whole of the site's activities until further notice."

Budget minister Eric Woerth condemned the workers' rampage, and called the vandalism of the regional administration "unacceptable."

He said: "To ransack the State's property when the State is the only recourse for all of these employees, it's rather paradoxical. This needs to stop."

Labour negotiations at the Clairoix site over conditions of the closure are to be mediated by the French government.

Important government officials have met with Continental workers at the presidential palace in Paris. The protesters have gained national attention by burning tyres in the streets of the capital and leading weeks of protests.

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