Two managers held hostage by workers unhappy with their severance packages have been released.
The pair, HR manager Roland Bentz and Sony France boss Serge Foucher, were held for 18 hours over the weekend by workers at a Sony plant in South West France. It is due to close on April 17 with the loss of 311 jobs.
Other Sony plants have closed recently, and the workers were trying to force the company to offer the same redundancy terms - especially for over 55s.
Union spokesman Patrick Hachaguer told Reuters that "we hope this time our voices will be heard. They told us we are all going to be sacked and offered us one month of salary for every year worked, but nothing for years worked after the age of 55."
After their release, Bentz and Foucher were to hold talks with state and union representatives.
According to employment law firm Allen & Overy the minimum redundancy payment in France for employees with more than two years' service is: 20% of a month's salary per year of service up to 10 years, plus an additional two fifteenths (o.133%) of a month's salary per year of service after 10 years.
Unemployment benefit - equivalent to the UK's jobseeker's allowance - ranges from 57% to 75% of the claimant's last salary, but is capped at €6,366.80 a month.
The London Evening Standard reports that French traders who have lost their jobs in the City of London are returning home to claim unemployment benefits as high as £70,000 a year.