Vector (A): Labour Negotiations at Maxime Platform

Published 01 Jan 2003
Reference 5067
Topic Strategy
Region Europe
Summary

This series of three sequential cases recounts the story of labour negotiations. The Maxime Platform, France, built in 1916 to accommodate the increasing demand for wood transportation, was by 1992 a loss-making unit. In 1998, a new Director of the Harbour and Railway Installations, Adrian Hamilton, is appointed. One of his first tasks was the assessment of the Maxime Platform operations. After confirming the difficult and declining financial performance of the installations, the decision to dispose of the unit and relocate staff to another Vector business unit was taken. The first case sketches the historical, geographical, economical and labour context of the Maxime Platform. It also introduces the protagonist of the case, Adrian Hamilton. It then proceeds by describing how Hamilton after winning over the trust of the unions and the employees soon after his arrival, looses it when job security at the Platform is threatened. The remaining part of the case describes the episodes of the first four months of the one-year labour negotiations that lead to the transfer of the Platform to a third party and the relocation of employees to another Alcan plant in the region. Case B covers the period between May and October 2001. It describes the change and effects of a new leadership style on the negotiation process. It shows how Hamilton, by bridging the gap and building new relationship with the different stakeholders (local, regional and national unions; employees and their families, the community), manages to energize his management team throughout the long and difficult project and prepare employees for their transition from their past to their future. Case C gives an account of the last three months of negotiations. Negotiations lead to a win-win conclusion of the project for all stakeholders as activity on the installations continue - with all its positive effect on the local economy - through a third party and the Maxime Platforms workers are provided with an attractive remuneration package and redeployed in one of Vector’s best plants in the region.

Teaching objectives

Vector: Labour Negotiations at Maxime Platform is a comprehensive case series that can be used to discuss the relationship between strategy implementation and emotions management of various internal and external stakeholders in a period of radical traumatic change (relocation, downsizing, re-engineering, etc.). The cases illustrate the importance of leadership style and initiatives in managing people and emotionally-intense situations.

Keywords
  • Union negotiations
  • Emotions management
  • Change management
  • Middle management
  • Downsizing
  • Adrian Hamilton. AR2003
  • AR0203
  • RD0103