Striking staff at a plant owned by French food group Andros have released two executives held hostage since Monday after management agreed to talks on planned redundancies.

The director and human resources manager of the Novandie plant in Marcillé-Raoul in Brittany had been held against their will since midday on Monday when industrial action began. Staff, however, continue to "occupy" the plant, a union official said.

The official said the men had been freed after management agreed to open discussions on the terms covering voluntary redundancies. "There is no longer any reason to detain the director and the HR manager. However, the occupation of the plant continues."

The workers' protests follow Andros' decision to cut 76 jobs at the plant. The cuts are set to come in next year as a result of production over-capacity.

A senior manager at the plant told just-food production at the plant remained at a standstill.

"Deliveries to customers have had to be cancelled and there is now a risk of stocks having to be thrown away," he explained.

Discussions between unions and management will take place today at Novandie's HQ in Normandy.