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PARIS – Union activists protesting proposed layoffs at Air France stormed the headquarters during a meeting about the job cuts Monday, zeroing in on two managers who had their shirts torn from their bodies, scaled a fence and fled under police protection.
An Associated Press photographer saw about a hundred activists rush the building after breaking through a gate. Shortly afterward two high-level managers fled, one bare-chested and the other with his shirt and suit jacket shredded.
Alexandre de Juniac, the CEO of Air France-KLM, had announced Friday the company would have to cut jobs after failing to reach an agreement with pilots. French media, citing the unions, on Monday reported a proposal to slash 2,900 jobs.
De Juniac said the company was being squeezed by low-cost airlines in Europe and Gulf carriers for long-haul flights. Monday's meeting was intended to detail the cuts, which he told Europe 1 radio would be "significant."
Among those at Monday's protest was Yves Porte, an activist who represents cargo workers.
"At a certain moment, the Gulf companies, who have low fuel prices and who receive government subsidies, compete with us. It's impossible, we are not on a level playing field," he said.
Air France said it would file a complaint for aggravated assault.
Although Monday's scuffle was unusually violent, labor relations in France are commonly testy, with unions sometimes even resorting to holding managers hostage -- or "boss-napping" -- to make a point.
France's transport secretary, Alain Vidalies, condemned the violence, saying in a tweet it was "unacceptable and must be punished."