Air France manager ‘almost lynched’

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.

About a hundred activists rushed 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 around 2,900 jobs.

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

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

Among those at the 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,” said Porte.

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

Human resources manager Xavier Broseta “was almost lynched” and had to climb over some barriers to escape, said one union delegate.

CEO Frederic Gagey made a hasty exit, according to two members of the committee, and the meeting was expected to resume a few hours later.

The management condemned the “physical violence” in a statement, and said it would file police complaints.


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