Air France's Clothes-Tearing Melee Spurs Firing of Four Workers

  • Eleven more put on unpaid leave in labor dispute violence
  • Disciplinary actions come after union threatened uprising

Air France fired four workers and placed 11 others on unpaid leave in connection with last month’s attacks on company executives who were forced to flee a meeting on cost cuts with their clothes in tatters.

The disciplinary actions risk unleashing further protests. Miguel Fortea,  the union leader for CGT, which represents many ground workers, last week threatened a “conflict without precedent” if Air France dismissed anyone involved in the Oct. 5 violence. Calls to CGT after business hours weren’t immediately returned.

One more employee is in the process of being fired. The unpaid leaves will run for 15 days. An Air France spokeswoman confirmed the actions after they were initially reported on French radio station BFM.

The attacks, which forced two executives to scale an 8-foot (2.4-meter) fence to escape, were among the most violent on record in commercial aviation, an industry known for stiff conflicts.

Air France has said it’s planning cuts to jobs, jets and routes in the absence of a deal with pilots, who had been asked to work more hours for the same pay to help end annual losses that began in 2011.

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