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“Torn shirt”: opening of the appeal process before a strike at Air France

Ⓒ AFP – JACQUES DEMARTHON – | Air France employees arrive at the Paris courthouse on
March 12, 2018, for the appeal trial of the episode of the “shirt
torn off”

The images of two executives of Air France, ragged shirts,
had been around the world: the appeal of 12 employees and
former employees of the airline opened Monday in Paris, a few
days of a strike for wages.

Gathered behind the red flags of the CGT and FO floating in
the wind, fifty people gathered Monday in front of the court in
support of their “comrades”.

The defendants, of which eleven are members of the Montreuil
power station, are charged with violence for four of them, and
degrading for the eight others. At first instance, the
sentences ranged from a simple fine to four months of suspended

On October 5, 2015, a demonstration against a restructuring
project threatening 2,900 jobs had degenerated when the crowd
had invaded the headquarters of the company in Roissy where was
held a Central Works Council.

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – KENZO TRIBOUILLARD – | Xavier Broseta, former Air France HR Director, tries to
cross a fence after being attacked by airline employees in Roissy
on 5 October 2015

Violently attacked while they exposed the plan, Xavier
Broseta, the HR Director of the time, and Pierre Plissonnier,
the manager of the long-haul activity, had to flee under the
boos, shirtless for the first, the tattered shirt for the
second. They had to climb a fence to escape the protesters.

At the call of their name, the defendants declined their
profession: storekeeper, technician and “interim” for the four
who were dismissed after the fact.

The president asked them the reason for their appeal. “I do
not recognize myself in the charges” of violence, which earned
him to be sentenced in first instance on November 30, 2016, to
three months suspended, said one of them, aged 57.

Two of his former colleagues were sentenced to four months
suspended. The fourth was relaxed, but the prosecution
appealed, evidence according to Vincent Salles, Secretary
General of the CGT Air France, the “political” nature of this

– ‘Exemplary punishment’

Before the start of the hearing, Mr. Salles recalled that
the then Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, had demanded an
“exemplary sanction” against trade unionists qualified as
“thugs”, during a trip to Roissy in support of the management
of Air France, the day after the facts.

Ⓒ AFP – JACQUES DEMARTHON – | The General Secretary of the CGT, Philippe Martinez (G)
addresses journalists on March 12, 2018 in Paris, at a rally to
support Air France employees in front of the courthouse before
the opening of the appeal proceedings

“We talk a lot about dialogue, consultation, but the
employer violence is never condemned while employees are
systematically brought to court,” lamented to AFP the number
one CGT, Philippe Martinez, present at of the support

“When one is fired, one is angry, and this anger, it is
legitimate”, he added, in answer to Air France which denounced
Friday the “intolerable” recourse to the “physical violence” in
this case.

This new trial, which is held on five afternoons until March
20, opens in a different context than the one held at the end
of November 2016 in Bobigny: the company returned to profits
and unions, which protested in 2015 against a possible social
plan, mobilize today to claim their “share of the cake”.

They demand a revaluation of salary scales of 6% and a large
inter-union calls for a strike on March 23rd. A month ago, a
previous move led to the cancellation of a quarter of

Before rushing into the courtroom, Air France lawyers said
they regret the holding of this new trial that requires
“victims to plunge back into these events, which were shocking
for all.”

Bobigny’s judgment “was a measured
judgment”; it should have “allow to turn the page of the sad
episode of violence” of October 5, 2015, said the company in a

For its part, Lilia Mhissen, who defends ten of the
defendants, pleaded Monday opening hearing the nullity of the
proceedings on the grounds that Air France should also have
been tried for misdemeanor in a social conflict, a ” junction
“facts that the court of Bobigny had then refused.

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