In France, workers get something off their chest
And you thought tensions were running high between workers and managers at your company.
In France last week, protesting union activists rushed inside Air France headquarters, storming a meeting about job-cut plans, according to news media reports. The clash led to two Air France executives having their shirts torn from their bodies and leaving under police protection, scaling a fence as they fled.
The scuffle came during a meeting in which Air France executives outlined a plan to cut 2,900 jobs. Managers would encourage voluntary departures, but if enough people didn’t raise their hands, the remaining workers would be forced out, the first forced cuts at the airline since the 1990s, according to the Financial Times.
The layoffs come as the airline is being pressured by both budget carriers in Europe and Persian Gulf carriers on longer flights to Asia. In a statement posted on its Web site, Air France KLM Group, the parent company of Air France, said it “strongly condemns the physical attacks that took place on the fringes of this Works Council, which were perpetrated by particularly aggressive isolated individuals.”
France is not a stranger to hostilities between workers and their bosses. Early last year, French unions held two Goodyear executives overnight at a company tire plant — a practice called “boss-napping.”
In 2009, Bloomberg News reported, Caterpillar increased its severance package for workers after a hostage-taking of four executives. The same year, workers held a 3M manager hostage— serving him a takeout meal of mussels and fries during his detention — but eventually freed him and opted to take the issue to court instead. An appeals court later ruled in the workers’ favor.
Officials help an Air France executive flee after he lost his shirt in a scuffle with union activists who had stormed a meeting on job cuts.