Thursday, April 2, 2009
Anger at management bubbling over -- Scenes from Goddard's Tout Va Bien
Some of you movie connoisseurs may know about "Tout Va Bien," also known as "All Is Well." This is Jean-Luc Goddard's fictional account of the labor disputes and strikes by French workers in 1968.
The real-life version updated to 2009 is now appearing in towns across France...
Caterpillar bosses held hostage
Lizzy Davies in Paris
April 2, 2009
FRENCH bosses were given a fresh reminder of the dangers facing them during the economic downturn this week as angry factory workers in Grenoble barricaded their offices and took four managers hostage.
Protesting against job losses and meagre redundancy payouts, local employees of the US firm Caterpillar decided to take matters into their own hands and locked their superiors inside the plant's management headquarters.
The latest in a surge of "bossnappings" across the country, the incident aimed to bring a more satisfactory conclusion to the recently announced round of blood-letting in which more than 700 workers are to be laid off.
"We are holding them in the director's office," Benoit Nicolas, a union official, said during the stunt, or sequestration, as it is known in France. The hostages included Nicolas Polutnick, the factory director, the head of human resources, and the head of personnel. "They are a little shocked," Mr Nicolas said.
The bossnapping was a clear sign of France's reawakening industrial restlessness amid the financial crisis.
Far from a one-off, the Caterpillar crisis was the third since last month. Last week the head of a factory run by the US chemicals giant 3M was held for 24 hours in a meeting room.
The chief executive of Sony France, Serge Foucher, had to spend the night in a conference room as workers blocked exits with tree trunks, demanding improved redundancy packages.
Bossnapping is regarded as the ace card played by a workforce at the end of its tether.