Industrial action by workers at Danone SA's French cookie and cracker operations has spread to a total of nine plants in France. The strike was sparked by reports first published Wednesday that the company plans to close 10 European plants with the loss of 3,000 jobs.

"The action, either full strikes or partial stoppages, has spread to all seven French plants mentioned as likely to be closed in the reports, plus two others," said Jean-Luc Bindel, secretary of the foodstuffs industries sector of the Confederation Generale du Travail. "We will be discussing options for more widespread action at a meeting on 15 January," the official said.

Danone previously denied the existence of any formal plant-closure plan, but is said to be involved in a review of European cookie and cracker operations as a number of sites are currently running at 40% of production capacity. Danone plan to meet with workers' representatives in the next few days.