Workers at French car parts maker New Fabris voted on Monday to remove gas canisters they had threatened to use to blow up their factory to back demands for higher redundancy payouts, a union representative told a news agency.


Workers at the plant in Chatellerault in central France voted by a show of hands to suspend the protest ahead of talks with aides to industry minister Christian Estrosi, who had demanded an end to the threats as a condition for the meeting, Reuters reported.


“We had to take this opportunity. Time is limited,” Christian Paupineau, a CGT union delegate, told the news agency.


“But there has to be significant progress. The canisters are being stored and kept under surveillance and they can be re-installed at any time,” he said.


Threats to blow up factories have taken over from ‘bossnappings’, in which managers have been held hostage at their workplaces, as a shock tactic for French workers facing plant closures.


Hit by the crisis in the automobile sector, New Fabris has collapsed, leaving 366 workers redundant.


They have been demanding a payment of EUR30,000 euros (US$42,470) each from the two main automaker customers of the company, Renault and Peugeot-Citroen.


Renault and Peugeot have agreed to buy New Fabris’ remaining stocks, subject to quality guarantees, on condition that the money goes to the company’s former workers. But unions say that would leave each worker with a payout of just EUR6,600.


Union representatives are due to meet officials from Estrosi’s office on Thursday.