In February 2012, a small band of sacked workers in Japan took on one of the world's biggest investment banks, Goldman Sachs, unionizing in a bid to keep their jobs and win a better deal from a firm they believed had treated them unfairly.

It was a story that struck a chord far beyond these shores, making headlines and sparking water-cooler debate as the world reeled from a financial crisis blamed on corporate greed and reckless risk-taking.

There were those who sympathized with the employees for taking action after Goldman Japan attempted to cut them loose and leave them at the mercy of an unforgiving job market.