Desseilles faced a similar fate, exacerbated by French labor laws. In 2011, facing what Michel Berrier, an owner, called “catastrophic losses,” Desseilles went into receivership to shed nine of its remaining 74 workers in a bid to survive.
But five employees, among them protected union leaders, sued to be reinstated. In 2015, a court ordered Desseilles to rehire them with back pay and damages, a cost of nearly one million euros. With debts of €600,000, it was money Desseilles did not have.
The company was forced into bankruptcy. “Globalization isn’t the only reason we ran into trouble,” said Mr. Berrier, surveying his near-empty factory floor. “The French labor laws put the last nail in the coffin.”
Ms. Le Pen’s National Front party issued a news release blaming cheap Chinese competition and the French labor code for endangering Desseilles.
Yet it was a Chinese investor, Hangzhou Yongsheng Group, that rescued the company, acquiring it in 2016.
Since then, Yongsheng, which runs textile and investing companies in Asia, has increased productivity, installing a bright new LED system that allows employees to easily identify flaws, and grouping Leavers machines closer together so that one employee can work several looms at once. Yongsheng also added new looms, and linked employee pay to production.
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