A helicopter is being used by a U.S. auto parts maker whose operations have been seriously curtailed by a workers' strike. The company is airlifting products past the pickets.

Half the production workers at Dura Automotive Systems Inc.'s site in Talaudiere in south-central France have been picketing the plant since Thursday to demand better wages, preventing raw materials from getting in and products from being shipped out.

The company is using the helicopter to deliver parts that are the most needed by its principal clients, Renault, Peugeot and Citroen, said Yves Kessler, chief of Dura's French operations.

It looks likely that if a blockade continues, clients will have to stop their assembly lines starting tomorrow afternoon and several thousand workers will be laid off.

Union officials declined to comment.

Dura, which is headquartered in Minneapolis designs and manufactures driver control systems, window systems, door systems and engineered mechanical components and has 37 plants in Europe, including seven in France.