In the Sarthe, former employees of Arjowiggins fight to restart an industrial activity


The former inter-union of the papermaker factory liquidated in March, which had 568 employees, is developing a project to manufacture new innovative paper products.

Posted today at 08h33, updated at 10h58

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At the entrance of the paper mill Arjowiggins, Bessé-sur-Braye (Sarthe), in March.
At the entrance of the paper mill Arjowiggins, Bessé-sur-Braye (Sarthe), in March. JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP

"As long as we're not dead, we're alive. " Jacques Lacoche, UDI mayor of the village of Bessé-sur-Braye (Sarthe), does not want to disarm. Wednesday, October 9, he came to support the new mobilization of the association Action citizen for the general interest, which intends to prevent the auction of paper and pulp still stored in the factory Arjowiggins, liquidated in March.

He is also there, because he found great hope in another association, The Sacrified Arjowiggins, created by the former inter-union company (CGT, CFDT and CFE-CGC). It has just announced that it is working on an industrial recovery project. "If there is going to be a project, it will not be recycled paper because it's a" bubble ", a growing sector in a declining global paper market.", warns Pascal Trudel, delegate CGT.

"On the other hand, there is grain to grind on innovative and specialty products. We have a group of seventeen R & D researchers who have continued to work on these new products. " Former employees keep them secret. "But it's a very reliable project that can bring in a lot of money"says Emmanuel Sauvaitre, CFDT delegate.

The inter union wants to launch a study with the company Secafi expertise to show the economic potential of this project and attract industrial and financial to revive the stationery. But time is running out … This work should "Last about two months", according to union representative Christophe Garcia (CFE-CGC). The owner of the production machinery which was leased was given as deadline October 31 before taking back his property.

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" Race against time "

"We decided to ask for additional time for the rental of the machinessays Garcia in front of the factory gate. What we would like is to keep the machines while the study, which is being financed by the region and the prefecture of Sarthe, can be launched. "

The urgency is also the arrival of autumn. "It's a race against the clockconcedes the mayor of Bessé-sur-Braye. We had a hot summer and the machines did not suffer too much. But the material should not be degraded with moisture. "

Read also A dismissed employee of Arjowiggins commits suicide

Hope is slim that this last chance for revitalization will succeed. But at Bessé, it clings firmly. Because "Arjo", it was not a simple factory. It was an identity. "We do not close our factory, but our village, our parents, our grandparents and great-grandparents. It's anchored in us, says the former driver Pascal Trudel. When I started here, we were nineteen of the same family to work! Going all the way to save the site is part of our role. "

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