French news sources have reported the start this week of a criminal trial against 15 Air France workers, in respect of alleged violence during a protest last year.
The workers, all members of the union, allegedly forced two company executives from Air France’s Paris headquarters to escape over a wire fence with their shirts ripped off. It was not a pretty sight.
The incident, which made headlines around the globe at the time, has been widely seen as illustrating the unique approach to industrial relations that exists between French workers and their bosses. Reports have said that union activists in French industrial action often destroy company property or even take their managers hostage for short periods of time – a practice so commonplace that it has a name: “bossnapping”.
There have been calls for France to tighten its laws in response to the incident. Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls said "these acts are the work of thugs." In response, union officials and left-wing politicians have complained about an increasing tendency to criminalise trade union action.
We work with our partners on HR issues across all of Europe. If you have problems with your French workforce, please do reach out to us. We will happily do what we can to help, but we draw the line at scaling fences naked.