30 May 2014

Nothing to do with managers caught sleeping at work, but an industrial tactic involving the kidnapping of managers by workers to achieve better terms and conditions or protect jobs.

Boss-napping became commonplace in France in 2009, when managers at Caterpillar, 3M and Sony were all held hostage by their employees demanding fewer lay-offs and better pay.

boss-napping in the news

Goodyear managers - Bernard Glesser, left, and Michel Dheilly, centerIn January 2014, trade union members at a Goodyear tyre plant in northern France took two of their managers hostage in a pay-related dispute.  This marked the return of the boss-napping phenomenon that dogged industrial relations in the country following the financial crisis.

The managers were locked in a room at the plant, with union members vowing to keep them hostage until they win guarantees over pay bonuses and severance packages. The situation came to an end when two policemen entered the US-owned factory and freed the two managers.

For years, the company tried to close the Amiens plant though with little success. In March 2013, workers protested against the planned closure clashed with police outside Goodyear’s headquarters in the suburbs of Paris.

In the summer of 1993, the boss of champagne house Moët & Chandon was trapped in his Epernay offices overnight with only a fridge full of bubbly for company.

Meanwhile, workers barricaded themselves in the cellars and cracked open a few of the 95m bottles laid down in the dusty warren of tunnels to protest against the group’s plan to commemorate its 250th anniversary with 250 job cuts. In 2009, the economic crisis and rising tide of factory closures and restructurings had prompted an unusually high rate of corporate hold-ups.

Image of Goodyear managers – Bernard Glesser, left, and Michel Dheilly, center: AP

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