Air France violence 'unacceptable', threatens France's image: Hollande

Air France violence 'unacceptable', threatens France's image: Hollande
Striking employees of Air France demonstrate in front of the Air France headquarters building at the Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Roissy, near Paris.
PHOTO: Reuters

LE HAVRE, France - French President Francois Hollande denounced a violent protest against Air France managers by striking workers as "unacceptable" on Tuesday, saying it threatened France's image.

"Social dialogue matters, and when it's interrupted by violence and disputes take on an unacceptable form, it can have consequences for the image and attractiveness" of the country, said Hollande during a visit to a maritime college in northern France.

The president called for a "responsible dialogue with a management that takes long-awaited decisions and union leaders who play the only card possible - that of compromise and negotiation." Air France-KLM's human resources manager Xavier Broseta had his shirt ripped off and had to clamber over a wire fence to safety after hundreds of striking workers stormed a board meeting on Monday in protest over plans to cut 2,900 jobs.

Another executive, Pierre Plissonnier, who is responsible for the long-haul flight division, had his shirt and jacket torn in the scrum.

The loss-making airline, which employs 52,000 people, is struggling to compete in the face of fierce competition from global rivals.

It had tried to convince pilots, who earn up to 250,000 euros (S$400,000) a year, to fly 100 more hours a year for the same salary, but talks broke down last week.

Instead, the company has now proposed the job cuts, along with a reduction in long-haul flights, selling 14 planes and possibly cancelling some of the new Boeing 787s it has on order.

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