I have to admit: The I thought the first photo I saw on Twitter was a hoax. It showed a man climbing over a fence with his shirt ripped off. The caption suggested he is Air France‘s Director of HR leaving a meeting with employees. That’s simply not the way a professional experience would end so I thought it a joke. It is not.
— A common lawyer (@acommonlawyer) October 5, 2015
Air France indicated plans to cut 2,900 jobs (1,700 ground handlers, 900 cabin crew & 300 pilots) as part of a drastic “Plan B” after failing to reach a compromise with pilots on lesser cuts. The plan also would see 10% of its long-haul operation cut, including a cancellation of 25 orders for Boeing‘s 787 Dreamliner. And during a meeting of executives explaining such to the assembled employee unions things turned violent.
Air France executives, shirts ripped from their backs, flee angry employees protesting plan that would cut 2,900 jobs pic.twitter.com/tIqefyHZB3
— AFP Photo Department (@AFPphoto) October 5, 2015
I suppose that the good news is Air France says the violence was limited to “particularly violent, isolated individuals” and that the meeting was civil until that small group rankled the crowd. But still…
As for the long term effect on the company, Air France has not been shy about its effort to “beat” its unions through shifting short-haul traffic to subsidiaries and other operations where it can keep costs down. The legacy unions are understandably upset with such moves and the negotiations to solve such problems have rarely gone well. But I’m pretty sure assaulting company management is not the way to win that battle.
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