Air France staff show support to employees held in custody after violence

About a hundred Air France employees gather to show support for six workers who were arrested at their homes as investigators tracked down protesters who hounded executives at a meeting last week.

ROISSY-EN-FRANCE, FRANCE (OCTOBER 12, 2015) (REUTERS) – About a hundred Air France employees gathered near Charles de Gaulle airport on Monday (October 12) after six staff members were arrested at their homes in the morning and held in custody, as investigators tracked down protesters who hounded executives from a meeting about mass job cuts last week.

The arrests came a week after the world’s media broadcast footage of an Air France human resources manager, his shirt ripped off, but tie still around his neck, scaling a fence to escape angry workers. A second manager had his shirt ripped down the back and a security guard was left unconscious for several hours after the melee.

The national secretary for the French communist party Pierre Laurent said the arrests were more aimed at intimidating the company’s employees.

“Whatever happened, how could it justify the method used this morning, to go get the employees at their house, in these conditions, to put them in custody? How can it justify that? It can’t. so what has been deliberately done this morning is one more provocation, it’s a will to intimidate employees,” he told reporters.

The secretary for the Air France CGT union, Miguel Fortea, said their employees would not accept any job cuts.

“We are here to support the people accused during this morning’s arrests and send a message both to (Air France) management and the government that we will not back any layoffs at all and we are determined about that. It’s absolutely scandalous that until now the government has only been supporting the two Air France managers that were harassed on October 5 but has said nothing about employees who will lose everything in the planned job cuts. I remind you that there are 2,900 job cuts planned for 2016 and 5,220 planned for after the presidential election,” Fortea said.

The incident took place on Oct. 5 at Air France’s offices in the Charles de Gaulle airport zone north of Paris, where human resources head Xavier Broseta and long-haul service executive Pierre Plissonnier were attending a works council meeting.

The managers and Air France Chief Executive Frederic Gagey had been outlining a cost-cutting plan involving 2,900 layoffs when protesters stormed the room. The proposal is described by the company as “Plan B” after it failed to persuade its pilots to accept a less radical one earlier this year.