Air France workers suspended over shirt-ripping incidents

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Five employees from the airline's cargo division are also due in court for allegedly attacking its HR director and the head of long-haul flights.

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Air France on Thursday suspended five of its employees without pay over with their alleged involvement in violence against two of the airline's executives on October 5th when the pair had their shirts ripped off, reports FRANCE 24.

The company sent letters to the five employees informing them that disciplinary procedures had been launched against them, union sources said.

The five men, suspected of assaulting the head of human resources and the director of Air France’s long-haul flights unit, were taken into custody by police earlier this week. They were identified on video taken of the shocking episode outside the company’s headquarters near Charles de Gaulle airport, during which two security guards were also injured.

The employees, workers in the company’s cargo division, are also facing legal charges.

They are due back in court on December 2nd, when they could be ordered to pay up to 45,000 euros in fines and spend three years behind bars.

The men were involved in a larger gathering called to protest the planned layoff of 2,900 workers as part of new cost-saving measures.

Pictures of the two Air France executives fleeing the demonstration – dress shirts and suit jackets ripped – made headlines around the world. The images and the workers’ subsequent arrests have since set off a war of words between French authorities and leaders sympathetic to the Air France workers.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls called the attackers “thugs” and said Air France’s management could count on the support of France’s Socialist government. President François Hollande said the incident had hurt France’s image worldwide.

Radical-left leader Jean-Luc Mélanchon told BFM radio that the workers had been unjustly arrested and kept in police custody overnight for “trying to save their jobs”. He encouraged Air France staff to continue their fight, and warned executives “this time it was only your shirts”.

Read more of this report from FRANCE 24.

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