The French police have arrested several Air France workers after investigators identified protesters who chased executives from a meeting about mass job cuts last week and tore the clothes of two managers, Reuters reported. At least four of those arrested were from the airline's cargo division, the police said.
The arrests were made after television broadcast footage of an Air France human resources manager scaling a fence to escape the angry workers.
Police and judicial sources said five Air France staff, all members of the CGT union, were arrested at their homes in the Paris region and would be placed in custody.
In another report by AP, a police source was quoted as saying that: “Around 20 employees had been identified and that ten of them belonged to the FO and CGT trade unions”, which are among the most powerful trade unions in France. Two of those involved were pilots who used their security keys for the company’s Paris headquarters to allow demonstrators onto the premises, the source added.
The incident took place on 5 October at Air France's headquarters near Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport, where human resources head Xavier Broseta and long-haul service executive Pierre Plissonnier were attending a works council meeting.
The managers and Air France chief executive Frederic Gagey had been outlining a cost-cutting plan involving 2,900 layoffs when protesters stormed the room.
Air France declined to comment on the arrests.
The airline's management hopes to renew contact this week with a view to resuming discussions on the carrier's future.
Broad range of views
In a poll of 1,000 people published by the Sud Ouest Dimanche newspaper, 54 percent said that they "understood" the workers' anger but did not approve their actions. A minority of respondents (38%)condemned the violence outright, while eight percent lauded the workers' deeds.
The results contrasted with a poll published by i-Tele channel last Friday, in which 67 percent said the attacks on the executives were "inexcusable". Only 32 percent of respondents in that survey expressed "understanding" of the workers' frustration over the planned job cuts.
Nol van Fenema