Thursday, April 9, 2009
Lost your job? Kidnap your boss!
In this current economic climate (hitherto to be referred to in this blog as 'this CEC'), I'd be the last person in the world to defend fat cat company bosses.
Even here in France, where it is usually nigh on impossible to be sacked, company bosses are running around sacking people left, right and centre.
You can't turn on the TV news here in France without hearing of another couple of hundred poor souls being turfed out of their jobs.
And while, in this CEC, the sacking of workers may not be unique to France, the reaction of workers to these sackings is quintessentially French.
Instead of quietly accepting their fate, packing their bags and skulking back to their homes to lick their wounds, newly laid-off French workers have taken to kidnapping their bosses and holding them hostage.
Last week, in a Caterpillar factory in Grenoble, three of the company's management staff were bailed up in their offices and held hostage for over 24 hours by irate workers who had just learned they had lost their jobs.
Phone lines were cut, mobile phones were confiscated and threats were made against the bosses personal safety.
And because this is France, the police didn't get involved, the media and public were generally sympathetic towards the workers and the government made rumbling noises about shoring up struggling companies with taxpayer's money to protect jobs.
And while I am utterly sympathetic to the workers' cause - and more than slightly impressed than their novel approach to fighting the sackings - I can't help but wonder how sustainable a practice this is.
The boss-napping is becoming so widespread that today's Figaro newspaper included a feature article about a company that is offering special training courses to executives on how to manage kidnapping situations.
In the article, a business consultant (who is apparently now doing brisk business advising business men on how to behave in a hostage situation so as not to upset your kidnappers) explains how "boss-napping doesn't just happen out of the blue" but that "there are always signs, and as a company manager, you can learn to read those signs and avert being kidnapped".
That this is even being discussed as a commonplace, workaday occurrence is nothing short of remarkable.
You have to love this country ...