After consultants who defied trade unions in advising a Prague company to lay off staff then invited the same unions to their lavish Christmas party, both union leaders and those made redundant were left feeling bemused. Even more so, when they looked carefully at the invitation.
Feeling the pinch of the financial crisis, the Prague Public Transport Company (DPP) decided to hire consultants to tell them how best to manage their money. BNV, a European consultancy firm, was chosen for the job. Their conclusion? Across the board layoffs were the only option.
Despite union efforts to save positions, the first wave of redundancies in November saw 300 workers lose their jobs. Soon afterwards, several of the union leaders who had fought to save the jobs received an invitation from the very same consultancy firm that had advised the redundancies. It wasn't just tea and cakes either; BNV invited the disgruntled trade unionists to a Christmas party in the uptown U Zlaté konvice restaurant in central Prague. It might have been seen as a way to say sorry (albeit it an unusual one), but the incredible invitation design ruined any chance of "apology accepted".
From left to right:
"Where the hell have you been, sneaky? Don't you know it's the Christmas party?"
"Yeh we know it, Ms. Barešová (BNV CEO) but we were busy laying people off."
"It's gonna be a mess again. God, those unions!"
"Ha ha!" ... and the fun begins...
"Thank you for inviting me to the party. Even though I lost my job today, you're great guys!"
"That's what I call a happy client. Huh!"
BNV claims it extended the invitation to certain union leaders as a reconciliation attempt, and that the comic was "meant as a joke". The unions didn't find it very funny and called for further strike action.
The consultancy firm responded to worker's outrage over the invitation by saying that DPP trade unionists were "obviously looking for any pretext not to work", adding that they had no plans to apologise.
Antonin Chmel, 57, is a former driver-machinist. He was made redundant due to BNV Consulting's recommendations.