Air France Execs Have Clothes Ripped Off by Angry Workers Facing Layoffs

Claire Bernish
October 5, 2015

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(ANTIMEDIA) Roissy-en-France, Paris — Two Air France senior executives were stripped of much of their clothing by a frenzied, irate crowd protesting massive job cuts at the airline.

A meeting of the company’s Central Committee (CCE) in Roissy-en-France came to an abrupt conclusion when the crowd of about 100 furious staff protesters swooped toward Air France Assistant HR Director Xavier Broseta, peeled his shirt and tie from his body, and forced him to escape with the assistance of security guards. Likewise, the head of Air France in Orly, Pierre Plissonnier had to seek safety with a boost from security over a fence — after his shirt and suit coat were reduced to shreds at the hands of the incensed crowd.

CEO Frederic Gagey fared better, having left the room before the violent outburst at the works meeting.

Air France announced around 2,900 forced layoffs, the first since the 1990s, when it failed to reach a satisfactory agreement with pilots. Since 2011, those pilots have been working increased hours without increased pay in an attempt by the company to make up for annual financial losses.

Clearly, the news that some 300 cockpit crew, 900 flight attendants, and 1,700 ground crew would shortly be unemployed, did not fall on welcoming ears. Plans included a reduction of 14 aircraft from Air France’s fleet and cancellation of less profitable routes, including a 10% cut to long haul flights. As the airline informed its works crew in a briefing, protesters stormed the room and halted proceedings for some time.

Competition from low-cost, long-haul European and Middle Eastern airliners led to the employment conundrum for Europe’s second-largest carrier.

“At a certain moment, the Gulf companies, who have low fuel prices and who receive government subsidies, compete with us,” said activist Yves Portes, representing the interests of cargo workers. “It’s impossible, we are not on a level playing field.”

Air France declared it would file formal assault charges against those inciting the brief riot in Roissy. In a tweet, France’s Transportation Secretary Alain Vidalies condemned the violent outburst and called for a return to civil negotiations.

Though French labor relations are typically calm, sporadic clashes with union leaders aren’t exactly unusual when unions wish to make a point. Staffing cuts aren’t likely to begin until mid-December, leaving the possibility negotiations could reach an acceptable conclusion in the interim.

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