Air France managers flee as staff storm meeting on job cuts
By Simon Carraud and Cyril Altmeyer
ROISSY, France (Reuters) - Air France managers fled a meeting on Monday about mass job cuts after angry staff waving banners and flags stormed the room, according to Reuters journalists at the scene.
The airline's human resources and labor relations chief Xavier Broseta had his shirt ripped off and his tie hanging from his neck as he battled through crowds of workers, some of whom shouted "clothes off".
Two security guards, one of whom was knocked out and did not recover consciousness for several hours, were hurt in the fracas, an Air France spokesman later said.
Broseta and Air France Chief Executive Frederic Gagey had been outlining a drastic cost cutting plan, described by the company as "Plan B" after it failed to persuade its pilots to accept a less radical one earlier this year.
Violent protests like Monday's are not unusual in France, where the population has a long tradition of taking the law into its own hands.
This year, as the country struggles to come out of an economic downturn, has seen several, with traffic disruption, damage to public property and injuries to police officers features of a spate of demonstrations by farmers, taxi drivers, ferry workers and even tobacconists.
However, unlike the headline makers in some other disputes, pilots lack sympathy among the general public and the Socialist government.
Ministers have queued up in recent days to put pressure on pilots to strike a deal, and a Sept. 26 opinion poll for Le Parisien newspaper found 71 percent of people see them as a privileged group, with 64 percent believing they complain too much. Continued...