The Michelin factory in Joué-les-Tours employs hundreds of people and stretches as far as the eye can see in this photo. Sadly it is struggling financially. Several times this year there have been compulsory temporary lay-offs of a couple of hundred staff for a day or two. This arrangement is called chomage technique in French and is a means for the company to stand staff down and have the state benefits system pay them temporarily. After the lay-off ends the staff go back to work as normal. It is not just used in times of financial trouble, but can be used for any temporary difficulty the company finds itself in (for example, an accident such as a chemical leak which forces the closure of a plant because it is temporarily too dangerous to work).