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Air France managers flee as protesters storm HQ over job cuts

Published 05/10/2015

Air France officials are protected by a police officer as they flee the firm's HQ at Roissy Airport, north of Paris, after scuffles with union activists (AP)
Air France officials are protected by a police officer as they flee the firm's HQ at Roissy Airport, north of Paris, after scuffles with union activists (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.

Monday's meeting was intended to detail the cuts, which he told Europe 1 radio would be "significant".

Among those at Monday'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 Monday's scuffle was unusually violent, labour relations in France are commonly testy, with unions sometimes even resorting to "boss-napping" to make a point.

France's transport secretary, Alain Vidalies, condemned the violence, saying in a tweet it was "unacceptable and must be punished"

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