Six Air France workers were taken into custody by police Monday as part of an investigation into violent scenes last week in which two of the airline's executives had their clothes ripped off and had to flee an angry mob.
The arrests sparked anger from union representatives and leftist politicians.
According to police sources, five of the men were taken into custody on the basis of witness testimony and video recordings of the October 5 incident.The sixth was taken into custody after his name came up in the course of the investigation.
They were arrested "without incident" early Monday at their homes outside Paris, the sources added.
The suspects are mainly warehouse workers in the Air France Cargo division of Air France Industries. A police source said some of them are union representatives.
They face up to five years jail if prosecutors request the maximum penalty for assaulting the executives.
‘Your shirt is next’
Over the course of the day, union members and leftist politicians denounced the arrests and the way they were carried out.
The men were apprehended as "if they were members of a notorious gang or drug or gun smugglers," Christophe Malloggi, of the FO union at the airline, told AFPTV.
Jean-Luc Melenchon, a high-profile leftist politician, condemned the arrests and said it was a "day of mourning" for France.
A rally in support of the men was planned for Monday at Air France's headquarters near Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport, a union source said.
With cries of "we are all employees of Air France," hundreds of union members also gathered in the southern French city of Figeac to call for the dismissal of France's Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, who was visiting companies there.
The protesters were kept at a distance but held aloft a white shirt similar to the ones ripped in the course of the protests at Air France last week. On the shirt was written: "The next one is yours!"
The government, which owns a 17.6 percent stake in the airline, has declared its support for the airline's management.
Anger over cutbacks
Pictures of Air France’s director of human resources, Xavier Broseta, scaling a fence with his shirt and suit jacket torn to shreds on October 5 made headlines across the world.
Pierre Plissonnier, a manager in charge of Air France’s long-haul flights, was also targeted by angry union members at the company’s headquarters near Charles de Gaulle airport.
The shocking episode came after France’s leading airline unveiled a plan to cut 2,900 jobs as part of new cost-saving measures.
French police opened an investigation into the incident on October 6, with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls labelling the executives' aggressors “thugs” who were damaging France’s image worldwide.
Since the confrontation, Air France has resumed negotiations with its pilots about introducing more flexible working practices.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2015-10-12