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Air France managers flee job cuts protest in ripped shirts

Two Air France mangers whose shirts were ripped off by activists have scaled a fence and fled under police protection after protesters stormed the airline's HQ. The demonstration was against proposed layoffs.

Air France human resources and labor relations chief Xavier Broseta was seen fleeing Monday's meeting bare-chested. A second manger left with his shirt and suit jacket shredded.

"We are fighting every day for an Air France that will have lasting growth," Broseta later said.

"Violence and intimidation will have no part of that."

Broseta and Air France Chief Executive Frederic Gagey had been outlining a drastic cost cutting plan on Monday, before hundreds of activists broke through a gate and stormed the building, close to Charles de Gaulle airport, north of Paris.

According to Air France executives, the plan involves 2,900 job cuts, and the abolition of five routes and 35 weekly long-haul flights - mainly in Asia and the Middle East.

The proposals have been dubbed as "Plan B" after the airline previously tried to convince pilots to fly 100 more hours a year for the same salary of up to 250,000 euros ($280,000). Air France pilots rejected the original plan, however, saying it effectively amounted to a pay cut.

The loss-making airline which employs 52,000 people is struggling to compete against its global rivals. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned last weekend that Air France "puts itself in danger" if it fails to evolve.

'Unacceptable' violence

France's transport secretary, Alain Vidalies, condemned the violence on Monday, tweeting that it was "unacceptable and must be punished."

The extreme measures seen from protesters on Monday are far from uncommon at French labor protests, however. Some unions have been known to take managers hostage, a feat which has become known as "boss-napping."

Air France said it intends to file a complaint for aggravated assault.

ksb/se (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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