PARIS (AP) — Union activists protesting nearly 3,000 proposed layoffs at Air France stormed the headquarters during a meeting Monday, 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 after breaking through a gate. Shortly afterward two high-level
managers fled, one bare-chested and the other with his shirt and suit jacket shredded.
Road access to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris was briefly disrupted, and some flights suffered delays.
Although Monday’s scuffle was unusually violent, labor relations in France are commonly testy, with unions sometimes even resorting to holding managers hostage — or “boss-napping” — to make a point.
Air France denounced the violence and said it will push ahead anyway with its restructuring plans, after failing to reach an agreement with pilots.
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.
Airline executives told reporters Monday the plan involves laying off 2,900 staff, abolishing five routes and 35 weekly long-haul flights, primarily in Asia and the Middle East.