BROADCAST DATE : Oct 2, 2009

The Education of Brian Nicholl

Canadians are being told that the recession is ending. But, across the country, for the unemployed, or those about to become unemployed, recovery seems far away.

This week, the fifth estate puts a human face on the economic downturn, through a close-up encounter with the employees of an auto parts plant that is closing. Edscha of Canada, in Niagara Falls, Ontario manufactures car door hinges. But, the German-owned company has also been affected by the worldwide downturn and, in order to save itself, it is killing off this Canadian plant, putting 200 workers, many of whom have worked there for decades, out of jobs. Linden MacIntyre and a fifth estate team spent more than a month at the Edscha plant as its final day approached. They record the human cost of the recession, and see first-hand the fight for one final payout--severance money that they are entitled to under Ontario law.

It’s a painful, dramatic struggle, focusing on two men linked by a common cause, but who are ultimately divided bitterly in their objectives. They are Brian Nicholl, a 50-year-old single father and idealistic plant steward, ready to fight for every penny that is owed the workers. And Jerry Dias, a veteran CAW union negotiator who understands, all too well, that at the end of the day, you take the best of what you can get.

In The Education of Brian Nicholl, the grim reality of job loss for thousands of Canadians becomes all too clear. What will be the outcome of the fight for severance pay at Edscha? What could it mean for others facing job losses elsewhere? No one is more surprised at the answers than Brian Nicholl, who learns tough lessons about corporate behaviour, the limits of the law and the difference between knowing what is right, and doing what is possible.