Business

Air France executives chased from jobs talks

  • 5 October 2015
  • From the section Business
Media captionAir France manager Xavier Broseta flees from angry protesters

Two Air France managers have had their shirts torn as they were forced to flee a meeting on job cuts by angry workers.

Human resources manager Xavier Broseta and senior official Pierre Plissonnier had to clamber over a fence, while several others were injured.

The men were taking part in talks about plans for 2,900 job losses when hundreds of workers stormed into Air France headquarters at Roissy.

Pilots had earlier rejected an offer to work longer hours.

Parent firm Air France-KLM said it would take legal action over the protesters' "aggregated violence".

The airline later confirmed the job losses as part of a big restructuring plan dubbed "Perform 2020" that also involved several routes to India and south-east Asia being cut in 2017.

The measures include cutting 1,700 ground staff, 900 cabin crew, and 300 pilots, as well as a 10% reduction in its long-haul business, a reduction in the size of the aircraft fleet and an increase in pilots' working hours.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Human resources manager Xavier Broseta was escorted away after his jacket and shirt were torn off
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Pierre Plissonnier (second from right) was also manhandled by workers
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Plissonnier, director of Air France at Orly airport, was eventually led to safety with his shirt torn

Air France said the restructuring would see the airline's costs reduced by €1.8bn (£1.3bn) over two years.

Chief Executive Frederic Gagey had already left the works council meeting when the room near Charles de Gaulle airport, north of Paris, was interrupted less than an hour after it had begun.

Several hundred demonstrators were reported to have entered the building shortly after four unions announced they were going on strike.

The company said it would aim for "voluntary departures" but said compulsory redundancies could not be ruled out.

One union official said Mr Broseta had "narrowly escaped being lynched". Security guards helped him flee the protesters by climbing over a fence, but not before his jacket and shirt were ripped from his back.

The airline's human resources manager later told a news conference that "what we saw this morning is not the image of the company's employees".

Prime Minister Manuel Valls said he was outraged by the violence and, along with Economics Minister Emmanuel Macron, added his support to the Air France management. The French government owns a 17.6% stake in the company.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Air France workers demonstrated outside Charles de Gaulle airport as the talks took place
Image copyright Reuters

Profits at the airline have been hit in part by strikes by pilots, who have been protesting over the expansion of its budget subsidiary, Transavia.

Air France cut 5,500 jobs between 2012 and 2014 in response to stiff competition from low-cost competition in Europe.

The company, which employs 52,000 staff, has said that it faced "the impossibility of reaching an agreement to implement the productivity measures to restore long-term profitability".

The company added that it "considered it essential to introduce an alternative plan" and had unanimously agreed to mandate Air France KLM and Air France Management to carry this out.

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