Striking foundry workers at one of Renault's cylinder head suppliers say they are confident their grievance is gaining political momentum as the walk-out enters its fifth week.

The Fonderie du Poitou Aluminium (FDP) in France's Charente region has shut down for weeks now as its staff strike against what they claim is up to a 23% wage cut demand by plant owners Montupet.

"This week we sense a real will on the part of the politicians," main FDP union CFE-CGC official Alex Jamain told just-auto from outside the gates of the foundry where his members are currently camped out. "We have a delegation going to the Industry Minister [Eric Besson] tomorrow [7 October] afternoon. I think the government has no choice - everybody has united to say this can not happen - the politicians have put oil in the wheels."

"There is no ambiguity - there is not even a question to put. Management must withdraw its plan and then we will enter into negotiations."

The CFE-CGC delegate estimates FDP is losing EUR200,000 per week (US$267,000) meaning the dispute has already cost the Montupet owners around EUR1m.

Such a lengthy dispute has necessitated the creation of a financial support committee organised by the CFE-CGC and which appears to have galvanised considerable backing in France.

"This committee has made appeals to other unions, to local organisations and to private people, we have received cheques from all over France," said Jamain, who revealed the fund had now swelled to EUR70,000.

The CFE-CGC also claimed there was an absenteeism problem at FDP before the strike, citing a figure of up to 10%, although no-one was available from Montupet's base in Paris to discuss the foundry's problems.