The Court of Cassation in France has rejected an appeal from Mowi Bretagne, a subsidiary of Mowi, over a total fine of €2.8 million handed down for the unfair dismissal of 111 factory workers at a salmon processing factory in Poulaouen that was closed in 2014.
The salmon giant made the workers redundant, with a court initially ruling in 2020 that the employees were unfairly dismissed with “no real and serious cause”. The court stated that Mowi would have to pay each employee between six and twenty months’ salary, dependent on their position.
The French court upheld the initially decision on Wednesday, confirming the employees were unfairly dismissed. The Court of Cassation considered that “the economic cause of a dismissal is assessed at the level of the company or, if it is part of a group, at the level of the sector of activity of the group in the scope of the group to be taken into consideration for this purpose is all the companies united by the control or influence of a dominant company…without there being any need to reduce the group companies located in the national territory.”
Mowi Bretagne, at the time called Marine Harvest Kristen, announced in June 2013 that it was cutting 400 jobs in Poulaouen and Chateaugiron. Only the employees at the former site contested the dismissal. The French court is currently assessing twenty other cases of unfair dismissal at the factory that were initially dismissed in December 2015.
“The economic motive (invoked by Marine Harvest) was dismissed by the court. We are dealing with a global group that has decided to buy a Polish company, to sacrifice a French factory, and finally, the Court of Appeal has just said that no, we cannot do anything to justify safeguarding competitiveness. It’s not just the profitability of shareholders that counts, it’s also the employment situation locally,” Roger Potin, the lawyer acting on behalf of the fired staff said after the initial ruling in 2020.
Mowi, which is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange and is the largest salmon farmer in the world, currently employees around 15,000 people across 25 countries.