Valls Slams Air France “Hooligans”

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French Prime Minister delivers an unambiguous message from the HQ of Air France, promising to pursue the protesters who ripped the shirts from two Air France executives

At a meeting in Charles-de-Gaulle Airport this Tuesday afternoon with management and unions of Air France, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls didn’t mince his words in condemning the attack on Xavier Broseta and Pierre Plissonnier on Monday following the intrusion on a management committee meeting of disgruntled employees of the airline.

“These actions are the work of hooligans” who “damage the image of France,” said Mr Valls. “The law will identify those who partook in this outrageous violence”. He added that they would be “heavily punished” for their actions.

HR Manager Xavier  Broseta feeling the cold as he was escorted to safety yesterday

HR Manager Xavier Broseta feeling the cold as he was escorted to safety yesterday

Yesterday, Xavier Broseta – the Human Resources Manager of Air France – and his colleague Pierre Plissonnier – responsible for the long-haul division – were manhandled by employees who had burst in on the central committee meeting to protest against the shedding of 2,900 jobs by the airline. They isolated Xavier Broseta in a corner of the room before chasing him outside and ripping off his clothes. The disturbances carried out on Monday resulted in seven injured (including one seriously – a security guard) according to a spokesman for Air France.

“Air France is in shock,” continued Valls at the press conference, where he was flanked by the two victims of yesterday’s violence, “and when Air France is in shock, all of France is in shock.

“Yesterday, trade unionists protected Xavier Broseta and Pierre Plissonnier… Social dialogue is, of course, vital and one cannot confuse trade unions and trade unionists with what happened yesterday. But a clear unambiguous condemnation is necessary. We cannot accept brutal acts of violence – when one physically attacks other people, trying to humiliate them in front of a mob – that has nothing to do with the troubles of a company.”

The PM called on all sides to take responsibility and to be flexible to a changing economic landscape. In response to questions on what part the French State (a minority stakeholder in Air France) would play in the conflict between management and workers over the axing of 2,900 jobs, Mr Valls pointed out that “the solution for Air France lies first and foremost with the company and with the efforts that everyone must make.”

French president François Hollande was in Le Havre for the launch of the super-sized container ship Bougainville, but added his condemnations two hours earlier.

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