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After Employees Mob Air France Executives, French Government Gets Involved

Security and police officers help Pierre Plissonnier, an executive in Air France's long-haul flight unit, to climb over a fence after several hundred employees stormed into the offices of Air France on Monday.
Security and police officers help Pierre Plissonnier, an executive in Air France's long-haul flight unit, to climb over a fence after several hundred employees stormed into the offices of Air France on Monday.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls paid a swift visit to corporate offices of beleaguered airliner Air France on Tuesday, a day after two of the company's executives were mobbed by protesters and had their shirts and suit jackets ripped from their bodies.

The executives had been taking part in meetings Monday about how the company would cut 2,900 jobs when hundreds of workers stormed the Air France offices. Human resources manager Xavier Broseta and Pierre Plissonnier, head of long-haul flights, scaled a metal fence and escaped under police escort.

Air France executives Xavier Broseta (shirtless) and Pierre Plissonnier walk away from demonstrators.
Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP/Getty Images
Air France executives Xavier Broseta (shirtless) and Pierre Plissonnier walk away from demonstrators.

Images of the shirtless executives were splashed all over social media and news broadcasts worldwide.

The Associated Press reports that France's Socialist government is concerned the incident has damaged the country's image:

"Prime Minister Manuel Valls paid a hasty visit to the Air France headquarters on Tuesday, while top officials from the president on down condemned the violence. Facing a backlash, so did the unions.

" 'When you physically attack people, when you try to humiliate them in a crowd, that has nothing to do with the trouble a company is in,' Valls said in a meeting broadcast live on French television. He stood with a phalanx of executives that included Air France's head of human resources, Xavier Broseta, who scaled a fence bare-chested and escaped under police protection along with the head of long-haul operations.

" 'These images hurt our country,' said Valls, whose top adviser is rumored to be replacing Broseta in January."

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls speaks to the media Tuesday at the Air France headquarters in Roissy-en-France.
Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP/Getty Images
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls speaks to the media Tuesday at the Air France headquarters in Roissy-en-France.

The BBC reports that Air France-KLM, the parent company to Air France, said it would take action against the employees who committed the "aggregated violence" against the executives. It also detailed some of the company's restructuring plan, which includes cutting some air routes.

Here's more from the BBC:

"The airline later confirmed the job losses as part of a big restructuring plan dubbed 'Perform 2020' that also involved several routes to India and south-east Asia being cut in 2017.

"The measures include cutting 1,700 ground staff, 900 cabin crew, and 300 pilots, as well as a 10% reduction in its long-haul business, a reduction in the size of the aircraft fleet and an increase in pilots' working hours.

...

"The company said it would aim for 'voluntary departures' but said compulsory redundancies could not be ruled out."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.