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France

Majority of French people 'understand' attack on Air France bosses, but do not approve

media Human resources manager Xavier Broseta, centre, is evacuated by security after striking workers interrupted a meeting with union representatives at the headquarters of Air France. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

The majority of French people "understand" why violence occurred earlier this week at Air France’s headquarters over pending job cuts, according to an Ifop poll to be published Sunday in Sud Ouest Dimanche.

When asked about the attack by a mob of striking workers on company executives, in which one human resources manager had his shirt ripped off and had to climb a fence to safety, 54 per cent of French respondents said they could understand their anger but did not approve of the attack.

Meanwhile, 38 per cent condemned the actions, while 8 per cent approved of the backlash.

In another opinion poll by Odoxa for iTELE published on Friday night, 67 per cent of respondents thought the violence constituted an "inexcusable act", while 32 per cent were more understanding.

Seven people were hurt in the attack, including a security guard who was knocked unconscious and required hospital treatment. French President Francois Hollande had called the incident “unacceptable” and stressed that it hurt the country's image.

Air France-KLM's management had given a green light to an alternative restructuring plan after negotiations with its pilots' union on a cost savings plan failed.

The planned job cuts, which include 300 pilots, 700 flight attendants and 1,900 ground personnel, according to unions, come after the company has shed more than 6,000 jobs in recent years. The airline is struggling to come to grips with increasing competition from low-cost carriers and Gulf airlines.

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