A proposal by Air France to fire 3,000 employees was met with violent union protesters Monday resulting in two company executives being attacked and their clothes almost torn off.
The decision by the airline to cut loose so many employees is part of a restructuring plan to reduce the fleet and end unprofitable routes. Union activists, however, adamantly opposed the plan. During a protest near the company headquarters in France, employees and union supporters attacked some company executives, The Wall Street Journal reports. The executives escaped by scaling a fence but not before having their clothes torn apart.
“We are fighting every day for an Air France that will have lasting growth,” Xavier Broseta, deputy human resources director, told The Associated Press shortly after escaping the attack. “Violence and intimidation will have no part of that.”
The attack first began when company executives were detailing the latest updates of the restructuring plan. During the meeting union activists swarmed into the room. Some of the executives attempted to flee the room resulting in the attack outside.
After escaping the mob, they fled with the help of police. According to The Associated Press, France is already known for aggressive union demonstrations. In some instances unions have been known to kidnap company bosses to make a point. Even so, the attack at Air France was unusually violent.
Air France has since denounced the attack. In a statement to The New York Times, the company condemned the violence “in the strongest possible terms.” Additionally, despite the attack, it will go ahead with its original plan anyway.
The restructuring is in large part due to recent economic difficulties and competition from low-cost carriers. The inability to arrive at a labor agreement with pilots is also playing a role.
Beyond the massive layoffs, the restructuring plan will also abolishing five routes and 35 weekly long-haul flights primarily in Asia and the Middle East.
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