March 26, 2009

Pt 1: CEO Kidnappings - Yesterday, hundreds of frustrated employees at the Continental Tyre Company took to the streets of Paris. They burned tires, waved flags and paraded outside the office of President Nicholas Sarkozy. There are more than 2 million people already out of work in France. Thousands more are expected to join their ranks. And the sense of frustration -- even desperation -- is palpable. Earlier this week, Luc Rousselet -- the director of 3M's operations in France -- walked into the company's factory in Pithiviers, about 100 kilometres south of Paris. He was there to negotiate severance payments for 110 employees. But the employees didn't like the terms he was offering. So they locked him in his office for two days.

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Pt 2: Multiple Tasering - Talk Tape - The moments leading up to Robert Dziekanski's death have become a familiar sight across Canada. He died after being hit with a Taser stun-gun at the Vancouver airport in October, 2007. And the footage of what happened that night has been poured over, frame by frame and replayed endlessly on television newscasts. But what those moments tell us about the safety of Taser stun-guns and how the RCMP uses them, is still very much open to debate. The Braidwood Inquiry into Mr. Dziekanski's death is looking into what happened that evening.

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Pt 3: Letters - Time for our weekly look at the mail! And Nancy WIlson was here to help Anna Maria Tremonti with that. She's a familiar face to viewers of CBC Television and CBC Newsworld. She anchors the midday news on both networks. She'll be The Current's Friday Host for the next few weeks.

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It's Thursday, March 26th.

Workers at a 3M plant in France have kidnapped one of their bosses to protest lay-offs at the company.

Currently, if you want to hear the punchline, please send 171 million dollars to the CBC.

This is The Current.

CEO Kidnappings

Reporter

Yesterday, hundreds of frustrated employees at the Continental Tyre Company took to the streets of Paris. They burned tires, waved flags and paraded outside the office of President Nicholas Sarkozy. There are more than 2 million people already out of work in France. Thousands more are expected to join their ranks. And the sense of frustration -- even desperation -- is palpable. Earlier this week, Luc Rousselet -- the director of 3M's operations in France -- walked into the company's factory in Pithiviers, about 100 kilometres south of Paris. He was there to negotiate severance payments for 110 employees. But the employees didn't like the terms he was offering. So they locked him in his office for two days.

After negotiations that ran into the night, Luc Rousselet was released and more talks between workers and management were underway. Jenny Barchfield was covering the story for the Associated Press and she was on location at the factory.

Professor

Now, France has its own particular culture around labour relations, one that's very different from North America. But Canada and the United States are awash in lay-offs too. And according to Gary Chaison, we might be more susceptible to militant job action than we think. Gary Chaison teaches Industrial Relations at Clark University and he was in Worchester, Massachusetts.

Steelworkers President

There's no suggestion that Canadian workers are planning any executive kidnappings. But according to Ken Neumann, they have been using more direct forms of action to push back against job cuts. He's the National Director for Canada for the United Steelworkers and he's in Timmins, Ontario.

 

Multiple Tasering - Talk Tape

The moments leading up to Robert Dziekanski's death have become a familiar sight across Canada. He died after being hit with a Taser stun-gun at the Vancouver airport in October, 2007. And the footage of what happened that night has been poured over, frame by frame and replayed endlessly on television newscasts. But what those moments tell us about the safety of Taser stun-guns and how the RCMP uses them, is still very much open to debate. The Braidwood Inquiry into Mr. Dziekanski's death is looking into what happened that evening.

An ongoing CBC Investigation on the use of Tasers in Canada has already exposed the extent to which police have become accustomed to using, and in some cases, abusing the Taser stun gun.

Sandra Bartlett is a reporter with CBC Radio's investigative team. She joined Anna Maria Tremonti in Toronto to talk about the issue of "multiple tasering."

 

 Letters

Time for our weekly look at the mail! And Nancy WIlson was here to help Anna Maria Tremonti with that.

She's a familiar face to viewers of CBC Television and CBC Newsworld. She anchors the midday news on both networks. She'll be The Current's Friday Host for the next few weeks.

Burglaries

The total cost of all the burglaries, theft and fraud in the United States was 16 Billion dollars in 2004. And that same year, U.S. companies lost 600 Billion dollars to employee theft. And those numbers got behavioural economist Dan Ariely thinking long and hard about why people are willing to cheat. He is the author of, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.

Dan Ariely gave a lot of examples of the experiments he has conducted. Alan Cook is an Anglican priest in Guelph, Ontario and wrote in with histhoughts about one of those examples.

Making the Grade

When a university professor decides to award his entire class A+, regardless of how well the students perform, it raises some eyebrows.

But Denis Rancourt defends what he has done. He is a tenured physics professor at the University of Ottawa. He has been locked out of his laboratory and barred from teaching, while the university considers firing him.

Last week on The Current, Professor Rancourt told us how he explained his reason for not grading his students.

We heard a lot more in the mail.


Cambodian Restoration Project

Last week, Anna Maria paid a visit to Chandra Eang. He came to Canada in 1985 from Cambodia. In the 1970s, he survived four years in that country's notorious killing fields the forced labour camps run by Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime.

Chandra Eang is now the founder of the Cambodian Restoration Projects charity organization and he plans to go back to Cambodia to work in Battambang, which is where he spent his four years in the killing fields.

That interview prompted many of you to write in as well.

The life of Roy Farran

The life of Roy Farran was a celebrated one. He served with the British Special Air Service during World War Two and left the service, highly decorated. After the war, he went on to serve as Solicitor General for Alberta in the government of Peter Lougheed.

But last week on The Current, we heard another version of Roy Farran. In an investigation, he is being directly linked to the 1947 disappearance and death of Alexander Rubowitz.

We heard from many of you in our audience, but these reponses also prompted us to get in touch with David Cesarani. He has just completed a new book about this contentious piece of history. It's called, Major Farran's Hat: Murder, Scandal and Britain's War Against Jewish Terrorism, 1945-1948. It was released this week. And David Cesarani was in Washington.

Contact Us

To add your thoughts to anything you hear on The Current, you can click on the Contact Us link found on our website.

You can also call in your thoughts any time toll-free to 1 877 287 7366. Or drop us a line at Box 500, Station A, Toronto, M5W 1E6.

Last Word

We wanted to mark the passing of John Hope Franklin. He was a distinguished historian in the United States and a pioneering black academic. He died yesterday at the age of 94 in the hospital at Duke University, where he taught for years. His classic book, From Slavery to Freedom was published in 1947.

He helped Thurgood Marshall win the landmark Supreme Court case, Brown versus Board of Education - a case that laid the groundwork for much of the civil rights movement. He was the first black President of the American Historical Association and the first black department chair at a mostly white college. And we'll leave you with his reflections on another first ... the moment that Barack Obama became the first black man to win the Democratic Presidential nomination.

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