What started as a planned campaign stop to visit the union bosses of a Whirlpool plant facing closure in Amiens ended in disaster for Mr. Macron after a surprise visit from his presidential rival.
Mr. Macron was shoved and shouted at by workers who may lose their jobs as the factory is scheduled to be relocated to Poland next June French broadcaster BFMTV reports.
The 39-year-old Presidential hopeful was greeted with shouts of “Marine President!” and was whistled at by some of the 295 workers expected to lose their jobs.
The reaction was in large part due to a surprise visit from the former Front National leader Marine Le Pen just hours before. Ms. Le Pen used the opportunity to talk with workers about their concerns and stressed the need to protect French jobs.
“In Amiens where I went to meet and support the workers at Whirlpool. With me, their factory won’t close!” Le Pen wrote on Twitter and posted pictures of herself with many of the workers.
The anti-mass migration candidate was greeted with cheers and applause from the workers in the car park outside the factory.
Ms. Le Pen released a statement on her campaign website of her proposals to save the plant saying, “after receiving 40 million euros in state aid under the CICE, the group’s managers decided to relocate this profitable plant to Poland. I will require that these amounts paid under the CICE be refunded in the event of the departure of the company.”
“If the group persists in wanting to leave,” she added, “the state will put all its energy, under my direct supervision, to find serious industrial buyers and who are committed to preserving jobs.”
Le Pen also slammed globalisation saying, “I consider that nothing is more important than the fate of the employees who could undergo a scandalous decision taken by a multinational eager for profits.”
When Mr. Macron was finally able to address the crowd he attempted to tell them how globalisation was actually good for them.
“The answer is not to suppress globalisation and close borders,” he told the workers.
The En Marche! party leader went on to slam Le Pen on Twitter writing, “Marine Le Pen spends ten minutes with party members in front of cameras, while I spend and hour and a quarter working with the unions, with no press.”
In her speech after the first round of the French presidential election Sunday night, Le Pen framed the second round as a debate between globalisation and French patriotism saying the “survival of France” was at stake.