Union activists storm Air France HQ over jobs cuts, managers flee

Union activists storm Air France HQ over jobs cuts, managers flee
Air France union activists break through a gate as they storm the headquarters to disturb a meeting at Roissy Airport, today. Pic: AP

Union activists protesting against proposed layoffs at Air France stormed the headquarters during a meeting, zeroing in on two managers who had their shirts torn from their bodies, scaled a fence and fled under police protection.

An Associated Press photographer saw about a hundred activists rush the building. The managers who fled included the head of human resources.

Air France-KLM chief executive Alexandre de Juniac announced on Friday that the company would have to cut jobs after failing to reach an agreement with pilots. French media reported a proposal to slash 2,900 jobs.

Mr de Juniac said the company was being squeezed by low-cost airlines in Europe and Gulf carriers for long-haul flights.

Today’s meeting was intended to detail the cuts, which he told Europe 1 radio would be “significant”.

Among those at today's protest was Yves Porte, an activist who represents cargo workers.

“At a certain moment the Gulf companies, who have low fuel prices and who receive government subsidies, compete with us. It’s impossible, we are not on a level playing field,” he said.

Air France said it would file a complaint for aggravated assault.

Although today’s scuffle was unusually violent, labour relations in France are commonly testy, with unions sometimes even resorting to “boss-napping” to make a point.

Air France director of Human Resources, Xavier Broseta, right, and Air France assistant director long-haul flight, Pierre Plissonnier, center, are protected by a police officer as they flee Air France headquarters at Roissy Airport, today. Pic: AP
Air France director of Human Resources, Xavier Broseta, right, and Air France assistant director long-haul flight, Pierre Plissonnier, center, are protected by a police officer as they flee Air France headquarters at Roissy Airport, today. Pic: AP

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