The hostages have since been freed and there is no suggestion that the trade union backed a clear breach of the criminal law. However, it is interesting to compare this with the recent approaches adopted by trade unions in high profile disputes closer to home.
The most highly publicised was the industrial action taken as a result of the threatened closure of part of the facility at Grangemouth by Ineos. The public sector also saw concerted industrial action when Stirling Council dismissed and re-engaged a large part of its workforce on new terms and conditions to help meet budget cuts. In both cases sense prevailed and a compromise was reached which saw jobs being saved. Nonetheless the UK Government wants to examine the behaviour of striking employees following events at Grangemouth.
In a time of continued cutbacks there remains a concern that perhaps some unions (or at least some of their members) are over flexing their industrial muscle when trying to resolve difficult protracted disputes. It is interesting that the Scottish Government's independence manifesto would give the unions greater powers and an employee representative seat on many company boards if there is a "yes" vote. Not surprisingly the UK and Scottish Governments' approach to collective industrial relations issues are polarised. However, most would agree that the treatment of the HR Director in France is an example of industrial unrest gone mad.