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Thousands protest as Air France confirms cuts

Thousands protested across France on Thursday as Air France confirmed it would axe 1,000 workers next year.

Thousands protest as Air France confirms cuts
Air France workers protest in Paris at announced job cuts. Photo: AFP

The demos coincided with the the first meeting of company chiefs since unveiling a restructing plan which sparked violence that left two managers shirtless.

Air France CEO Frederic Gagey said 1,000 posts would be cut in 2016 through “voluntary departures” at a meeting of managers and union representatives in central Paris.

He did not say which services would be targeted.

A further 1,900 job cuts due in 2017 have been suspended “in the hope of finding an agreement with pilots and ground staff to improve productivity,” said Didier Fauverte of the CGT union after the meeting.

It was the first such meeting since the violent scenes on October 5, when hundreds of workers stormed a board meeting and attacked managers.

In scenes that made front pages around the world, the head of human resources and another executive were forced to flee with their shirts partially ripped off.

On Thursday, the protests were more peaceful despite a few firecrackers and smoke bombs, attracting some 7,000 people in Paris alone, the CGT said.

There were a few renditions of pop song “Tomber la Chemise” (“Drop the Shirt”).

Many voiced their support for the five employees who have been detained over the violence earlier this month and will face trial on December 2 for their alleged role in the violence.

“Are we the bad guys? No,” said Philippe Evain, president of the leading pilots' union.

Air France hopes to save 1.8 billion euros ($2 billion) over two years as competition with global rivals intensifies, but efforts to increase the workload of pilots have been rejected.

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STRIKES

French customs officers strike over job cuts

Customs officers across France will walk out on Thursday in protest at job cuts that unions say will “weaken the customs network”.

French customs officers strike over job cuts

The national strike on Thursday, March 10th is expected to lead to delays at ports, airports and on the Eurostar.

The strike, which will include a rally outside the National Assembly building in Paris, was called by the CFDT-Douane and has the support of other unions. 

A work-to-rule protest over pay and conditions by customs officers in 2019, under the shadow of Brexit, led to delays and disruption at airports, as well as ports including Calais and Dunkirk, and on Eurostar trains.

Unions are calling on the government to axe plans to switch responsibility for import duty collection to the Direction Générale des Finances Publiques by 2024, at the cost of 700 customs’ officer jobs – and, according to strikers, tens of billions of euros to State coffers.

“We are asking for the reforms to be stopped, mainly that of the transfer of taxation, which is disorganising the network with the elimination of nearly a thousand jobs,” CFDT-Douane’s secretary general David-Olivier Caron said.

The planned job cuts come after years of restructuring and streamlining that has seen thousands of positions disappear, the unions say, when customs fraud and smuggling is rising because of a lack of resources.

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