RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Parlez vou Francais? You want to talk about truly bitter employee dissatisfaction at Nortel? Try saying “We’ll bomb the place!” in French!
Some of the 2,000 folks at Nortel in RTP fear for their future, and a lot of their former colleagues are mad at the way they are being treated by the bankrupt telecom gear maker. But call out the bomb squad? Let us pray not.
In France, labor strife is a different matter. Some workers have gone from “boss-napping” to bomb planting as unemployment increases. And several hundred Nortel workers facing layoffs at a site near Paris are among the latest to try the bomb technique in a bid for better severance benefits.
Apparently mimicking workers at a closing car plant, the bankrupt Nortel employees claim to have placed gas cylinders around the Nortel facility in Yvelines. Some 480 people will lose their jobs as Nortel marches toward financial dismemberment.
The newspaper Le Parisien is reporting today that the workers are ready to blow more than the proverbial gasket over the way they are being treated.
"We are exasperated by the practices of the administrator,” a worker told the newspaper. . “A meeting was planned yesterday, but it was cancelled at the last minute. … It is not the first time. They have been stringing us along for four days. They have no respect for us.”
Apparently the gas tanks are empty, but the anger is not made up. And the Nortel workers aren’t alone. Several times in recent months French workers have “bossnapped” supervisors as part of a strategy to get better “redundancy” pay – what we call severance in the U.S. But at Nortel, no one is getting severance.
And as The Skinny noted back in April, “boss-napping” has broad support among blue-collar workers (56 percent), white-collar workers (41 percent) and the French public (45 percent!).
Egad, what must the numbers be now as the economic crisis worsens? The fact bombing is now being considered shows just how deep the angry is among a lot of workers.
At the New Fabris plant, workers are demanding $42,000 in payments for each employee by July 31.
"Are we capable of blowing up the factory? Yes we are,” union leader Guy Eyermann told workers at the car plant, "Renault and Peugeot have killed us. We want a share of the cake. They have been helped by the state."
The companies say they won’t talk, and the government backed off a meeting with the workers as long as the bomb threat remains, The Times reported.
In other words, back off – or eat gas fumes, not cake?
Explosive times we live in, eh? Sad. Sad. Sad.