Four Air France employees sacked over shirt-ripping incident

12th November 2015, Comments 0 comments

Air France said Thursday it had sacked four employees and started dismissal proceedings against a union representative over chaotic scenes last month when two of its executives had their shirts shredded by angry staff.

In pictures carried by media across the world, human resources chief Xavier Broseta, naked from the waist up, had to scale a fence after he was pursued from a meeting about restructuring proposals at the troubled airline.

Another executive, Pierre Plissonnier, also had his shirt and jacket ripped.

The violent protests took place at Air France's headquarters on the outskirts of Paris on October 5 as management were announcing a plan to cut 2,900 jobs.

The five workers engaged in "serious misconduct" during the scuffles, a spokesman for the airline told AFP.

The men, aged 35 to 48, were arrested and will stand trial on December 2 for their alleged roles in the violence. Four work for the airline's cargo arm and the other is an employee of Air France Industries.

Miguel Fortea, secretary general of the CGT union at Air France, told AFP that the five men were fired "without compensation or notice".

A sixth person who was also arrested over the violence is no longer facing accusations of physical aggression, the airline's spokesman said.

Overall, Air France-KLM has launched disciplinary procedures against 18 employees.

Two pilots accused of opening the gates leading to the building where the meeting was being held are still under investigation, the airline said.

The incident has highlighted rising tensions at France's national flag carrier as the airline, facing intense competition from global rivals, seeks to persuade its pilots to adopt more flexible working practices.

It wants pilots to fly 100 more hours a year for the same salary.

A two-week strike by the pilots in September 2014 crippled the airline and cost 416 million euros ($448 million) in turnover.

- 'A joke' -

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has threatened "strong punishment" for the "rogues", while President Francois Hollande condemned the violence as "unacceptable".

Air France claims its decisions were made "in a way that was just, equitable, proportionate and rigorous", adding that a "rejection of all violence" is key to the group's "fundamental values".

The sanctioned workers now have 10 days to appeal, it added.

Union representatives condemned the latest developments, claiming that the footage used by the company to attribute responsibility could not actually be used to single anyone out.

"It's just a joke," a member of one union, Force Ouvriere, said. "You can't see anyone hitting anyone."

"It's inadmissible and we won't let this go," Mehdi Kemoune of the CGT union told AFP.

The unions have demanded that the disciplinary measures be put on hold until the police inquiry is complete.

© 2015 AFP

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