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FRANCE-NETHERLANDS

'Get your act together' Dutch unions tell Air France as woes reach KLM

A board with an image of Air France-KLM Chief Executive Officer Alexandre de Juniac reading "keep our planes, sack the bosses" is seen on the Air France headquarters building at the Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Roissy, near Paris, France, Oct
A board with an image of Air France-KLM Chief Executive Officer Alexandre de Juniac reading "keep our planes, sack the bosses" is seen on the Air France headquarters building at the Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Roissy, near Paris, France, Oct REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

Scenes of violent mobs outside Air France headquarters have rattled members of its Dutch arm. KLM is increasingly worried about the impact industrial action could have on its own activity.

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"We are very worried about the developments at Air France," Annette Groeneveld, President of the VNC Cabin Crew Union in Amsterdam told RFI on Monday.

"At KLM, we have been able to strike a deal between the pilots, cabin crew and ground staff to reduce labour costs, and improve the efficiency of KLM," said Groeneveld, who can't understand why the French can't do the same.

Air France was set to announce a new restructuring plan on Monday morning that included job losses of up to 3.000 staff. Similar measures have already been passed in Amsterdam.

"I must admit, I don't know what Air France is doing," continued Groeneveld."

Economy minister Emmanuel Macron can't understand either, and has urged pilots and unions to make an effort.

"You have to look at the figures - the group's financial situation is difficult," Macron said.

Groeneveld feels negotiations may have been rushed. "KLM did not enforce anything on us. We have been negotiating for a very long time and we struck a deal in the best interests of the company."

KLM’s earnings fell by almost half, to 175 million euros last year, after two-weeks of strike action in France.

Criticism has centred on pilots, who rejected a previous proposal by Air France to work longer hours. Groeneveld says that Dutch unions are exasperated by French culture.

"I think negotiating by the unions in France is a bit difficult because I think that French culture is difficult, well different at least," she concluded.

Bosses at Air France were almost lynched by angry workers on Monday after announcing impending job cuts. They are now pursuing criminal charges.

French Prime minister Manuel Valls, on a visit to Japan, said he was shocked by the violence.

Trade unions have distanced themselves from the incident, but maintain they sympathize with workers 'distress.'

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