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French press review 7 October 2015


The people of Palermo win praise for offering befitting resting place to fallen boat people; and the French government is trapped in union violence at struggling Air France.


The violent protests at Air France dominate today’s front pages with the national dailies brazing for what looks like one of the fiercest ideological battles of the Francois Hollande presidency.

The bone of contention as you probably heard in the news is the airline’s latest redundancy plan targeting the retrenchment of 300 pilots, 900 air hostesses and stewards, and 1,700 ground staff which sparked a riot at the carrier leading to the near lynching of the company’s human resources chief.

The atmosphere has been charged by photographs of the bare-chested official jumping over a fence to safety which were splashed across the front pages of local and foreign newspaper websites amid a warning by President Francois Hollande that the violence could have devastating consequences on the image and attractiveness of the country.

Left-leaning L’Humanité names what it describes as the four men lighting the flame of exasperation at the 52,000 – strong company. Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Economy Minister Emannuel Macron are in the group which includes Air France/KLM CEO Alexandre de Juniac who has filed a criminal law suit and a disciplinary procedure against the perpetrators of the violence.

The Communist party daily ridicules claims by right-wing Le Figaro that intransigent unionists and hostile employees at the airline are responsible for the degradation of social dialogue at the company. What has destroyed social dialogue it says is the deafness of corporate bosses.

L’Humanité’s anger is exacerbated by a report in this week’s Le Canard Enchaîné that Air France was also planning a further 5,000 job cuts after 2017 on top of the 2,900 workers to be laid off under the just-announced scheme and 5,500 jobs shed between 2012 and 2014.

Libération also comments about the unprecedented violence at Air France. For the left-leaning publication the flair up exposes the ruthless manner in which redundancy plans are being executed in France these days –the pressure always being piled on the worker.

An official of the powerful CFDT union, told Le Parisien newspaper that ground staff, stewards and cabin crew "feel they have made enormous efforts without ending up in a position to influence decisions" adding that many felt helpless, and like spectators to a crash in which they will be the first victims".

For the Catholic daily La Croix, gone are the days when the government could intervene effectively on behalf of workers in labour disputes.

That’s a view shared by the conservative Le Figaro delighted to dissect the dilemma facing the government as it remains “trapped in the Air France turbulence”. The paper argues that while Prime Minister Manuel Valls has renewed his confidence in Air France’s management, the government doesn’t want to be dragged into the conflict.

The havoc at Air France offered Les Républicains leader Nicolas Sarkozy a golden opportunity to tease his declared political foe President Francois Hollande. The attempted lynching of two officials of a company by unions in uniform who voted for Hollande is absolutely unacceptable, he said.

“In memory of the death at sea” is the title of today’s front-page article in La Croix. The Catholic newspaper reports from the southern Italian city of Palermo where some 2500 migrants who got drowned in the Mediterranean are buried.

The cover page illustration is the tomb stone of an “incognito “ or unknown, the newspaper praising the graceful people of Palermo for offering a befitting place to those whose journey to Europe ended on the Italian shores.

In today’s editorial, the paper argues that the caring and dedicated services rendered there by Italian aid workers have ended up drowning out the offending utterances and conduct "destined to humiliate"..










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