Air France’s announcement to cut 2,900 jobs after it failed to persuade pilots on cost-cutting measures did not sit well with union members Charles de Gaulle airport, as a mob injured seven people, including two security guards—one of whom was knocked unconcious for several hours—while attacking the airline’s human resources and labor relations chief Xavier Broseta and deputy of long-haul flights Pierre Plissonnier.
The announced job cuts, according to Reuters, include 1,700 ground staff, 900 cabin crew and 300 pilots.
During a meeting to outline the cuts, approximately 100 angry union members forced their way into the meeting, causing the executives to flee as the mob ripped the shirts off their backs.
Broseta “was almost lynched”, according to one union delegate, and had his shirt ripped off as he clambered over a wire fence to safety, helped by security guards. Plissonnier had his shirt and jacket torn in the scrum.
Although tensions had been building over the weekend in anticipation of the meeting to announce the “restructuring plan,” reported the Guardian, union leaders were quick to condemn the violence.
After the violence erupted at about 9.30am on Monday morning, there was widespread condemnation from French union leaders who sought to blame each other’s members for the assaults.
Laurent Berger, secretary general of the CFDT, said the attacks were “undignified and unacceptable”, while Claude Mailly, of Force Ouvrière (Workers Force) said he understood Air France workers’ exasperation, but added: “One can fight management without being violent.”
Manuel Valls, France’s prime minister, said he was “scandalised” by the behaviour of the workers and offered the airline chiefs his “full support”.
Air France said it had lodged an official police complaint for “aggravated violence”.