Air France’s human resources director, Xavier Broseta, tries to climb a fence to escape angry employees. Photograph: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images
Air France’s human resources director, Xavier Broseta, tries to climb a fence to escape angry employees. Photograph: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

Striking staff at Air France have taken demonstrating their anger with direct action to a shocking new level. Approximately 100 workers forced their way into a meeting of the airline’s senior management and ripped the shirts from the backs of the executives.

The airline filed a criminal complaint after the employees stormed its headquarters, near Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, in what was condemned as a “scandalous” outbreak of violence.

Photographs showed one ashen-faced director being led through a baying crowd, his clothes torn to shreds. In another picture, the deputy head of human resources, bare-chested after workers ripped off his shirt and jacket, is seen being pushed to safety over a fence.

Tensions between management and workers at France’s loss-making flagship carrier had been building over the weekend in the runup to a meeting to finalise a controversial “restructuring plan” involving 2,900 redundancies between now and 2017. The proposed job losses involve 1,700 ground staff, 900 cabin crew and 300 pilots.

Pierre Plissonnier, vice-president of Air France at Orly airport in Paris, is helped by police to escape the protesters. Photograph: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images
Pierre Plissonnier, vice-president of Air France at Orly airport in Paris, is helped by police to escape the protesters. Photograph: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

After the violence erupted at about 9.30am on Monday morning, there was widespread condemnation from French union leaders who sought to blame each other’s members for the assaults.

Laurent Berger, secretary general of the CFDT, said the attacks were “undignified and unacceptable”, while Claude Mailly, of Force Ouvrière (Workers Force) said he understood Air France workers’ exasperation, but added: “One can fight management without being violent.”

Manuel Valls, France’s prime minister, said he was “scandalised” by the behaviour of the workers and offered the airline chiefs his “full support”.

Air France said it had lodged an official police complaint for “aggravated violence”.

Several hundred airline employees had gathered to demonstrate outside Air France’s head office and members of senior management were greeted by an angry crowd shouting and waving flags and placards featuring the company chiefs portrayed as criminals in police mugshots. As executives entered the building, dozens of workers forced their way into the committee room shouting “this is our home”.

The Air France president, Frédéric Gagey, escaped unharmed. However Pierre Plissonnier, vice president of the airline’s Orly airport hub was attacked. Xavier Broseta, deputy director for human resources and labour relations, also felt the workers’ ire and had to flee semi-naked.

Increased competition from Middle Eastern rivals and budget airlines recently prompted the loss-making group to seek a reorganisation and €1.8bn (£1.3bn) savings. The company is also planning to close five long-haul routes and sell off 14 of its larger, long distance aircraft.

On Monday morning, before the demonstration, Philippe Martinez, secretary general of the powerful CGT union, told RTL radio: “For several years now, successive heads of Air France have suggested rescue plans … each time, it’s a bottomless pit with the same suggestions. I believe they are trying to set one lot of us against the other. We need a real expert appraisal of the situation.” He admitted that Air France had been hard hit by the deregulation of the industry and the popularity of low-cost airlines.

Source:the Guardian

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13 COMMENTS

    • The Public Order Act would visit the poor Zambians if anything like that happened here. The zambian police would use the opportunity to vent their frustration. Frustration makes our men in uniform behave the way they do

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  1. Ironically, that can only happen in an inclusive, well balanced democracy that does not have funny laws to repress and suppress its people. In Zambia? Nah – forget it. Just look at cops brutalizing people in police station premises and you get the picture of the stark differences..l

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  2. And some numpty in Zambia wants to create a national airline with borrowed money, when others are trying to pull out as competition is stiff!!

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  3. Then you ask yourself why EU is developed. People there are serious and would not accept clueless Leaders who keep blaming God for their failures. Until we reach that level forget it Zambia and Africa in particular.

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