Air France Staff Violence Condemned

Air France Staff Violence CondemnedAir France Staff Violence Condemned

French President Francois Hollande condemned on Tuesday the violent protests by Air France staff at plans to slash thousands of jobs, saying it damaged the country’s image.

“Labor talks are important. When they are disrupted by violence, by disputes that take unacceptable forms, we see that it can have consequences on [France’s] image,” Hollande said at the inauguration of a naval school in the northern city of Le Havre on Tuesday, France24 reported.

The Socialist French president called for “peaceful negotiations,” stressing the need for “a dialogue between responsible employers … and responsible unions.”

Prime Minister Manuel Valls also condemned the violence on Tuesday during a specially arranged visit to Air France’s headquarters near the Charles de Gaulle airport outside of Paris.

Hollande and Valls’ comments come a day after hundreds of angry Air France workers stormed a meeting to discuss mass job cuts at the company’s headquarters, resulting in two executives being forced to flee with the shirts ripped off their backs.

The violence erupted shortly after Air France executives informed the company’s central committee that 2,900 jobs would be slashed by 2017 as part of a vast cost-cutting program aimed at making the airline more competitive.

Air France, part of the Franco-Dutch Air France-KLM group, reported losses of €619 million in the first half of 2015 and has overall debt of around €5.4 billion.

Air France’s financial troubles have sparked speculation over its future as the country’s flag-carrier.

Just last week, Bruno Le Roux, leader of the French Socialist Party at the lower National Assembly, raised the possibility that the company could be taken over by a foreign firm.

“The French flag is now at risk of disappearing. Air France will certainly always exist. But will it be French? Will it not? We’re now seeing companies, particularly Persian Gulf companies, looking our way,” Le Roux said.