May 16 (UPI) -- Workers in Venezuela seized a Kellogg's factory after the U.S. company said it would leave the country over its worsening economic conditions.
Workers who arrived Tuesday at the company's plant in the central Venezuelan city of Maracay found a statement from Kellogg's saying it closed operations there. Venezuela's Labor Minister Néstor Ovalles came to the plant and told workers the state would "ensure their rights and employment," the Wall Street Journal reported.
Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro said the Kellogg's shutdown was "illegal and unconstitutional," the Latin American Herald Tribune reported.
"We've begun judicial proceedings against the business leaders of Kellogg's because their exit is unconstitutional," Maduro told supporters in the central state of Carabobo, according to the BBC. Maduro added that Venezuelans seized the factory so it could continue producing goods.
"I've taken the decision to deliver the company to the workers in order that they can continue producing for the people," he said.
Kellogg's cautioned against selling its products "without the expressed authorization of the Kellogg Company."
In assigning blame for shutting down its Venezuela operations after 56 years, the Michigan-based company cited "a material change in the entrepreneurial environment, including a turn for the worse in our access to key materials as consequence of the present restrictions."
"The current economic and social deterioration in the country has now prompted the company to discontinue operations," the company said.