AF Managers Flee After Union Activists Rip Shirts Off Their Backs

Open Jaw

Union activists protesting nearly 3,000 proposed layoffs at AF stormed the airline’s H.Q. during a meeting Monday, attacking 2 senior managers who had their shirts torn from their bodies. They were forced to scale a fence and flee under police protection.


An Associated Press photographer reported seeing about 100 activists rush the building after breaking through a gate. Shortly afterward 2 high-level managers fled, one bare-chested and the other with his shirt and suit jacket shredded.


Road access to CDG was briefly disrupted, and some flights suffered delays.


Although Monday's scuffle was unusually violent, as CBC News reports, labour relations in France are commonly testy, with unions sometimes even resorting to holding managers hostage — or "boss-napping" — to make their point.


Alexandre de Juniac, the CEO of Air France-KLM, said the company is being squeezed by low-cost airlines in Europe and Gulf carriers for long-haul flights. Monday's meeting was intended to detail the cuts. The drastic plan was described by the airline as "Plan B" after pilots turned down a better offer earlier this year.

AF denounced the violence and said it will push ahead with its restructuring plans.

A recent opinion poll for Le Parisien newspaper found that 71% of respondents view pilots as a privileged group, with 64% believing they complain too much.

Ground staff unions long ago accepted the company's original, less draconian, cost-saving regime, in contrast to the pilots, who staged a strike a year ago that cost the company €500 million.

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