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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Air France. Pierre Laurent juge "hallucinant" que Valls aille "s’excuser" en Arabie Saoudite

by l’Humanité.fr with Agence France Presse

Air France: Pierre Laurent Thinks It “Staggering” That Valls Should Go and “Apologize” in Saudi Arabia

Translated Monday 19 October 2015, by Gene Zbikowski

Pierre Laurent, the national secretary of the French Communist Party, thinks it “staggering” that Manuel Valls “should apologize in Saudi Arabia for what happened at Air France,” where the French Prime Minister was on a trip on Oct. 12.

In Riyadh, the Prime Minister exhorted Saudi companies to invest in France. Regarding Air France, he notably declared that “the pictures” of two assaulted executives “have gone round the world (…) very quickly feeding an old idea, an old cliché, according to which France is jammed, hobbled and sometimes incapable of adopting reforms.”

“When I see Manuel Valls explaining the conditions of social life in France, apologizing in Saudi Arabia for what happened at Air France, I find it staggering. That’s a country where, obviously, they don’t even know what social dialog means, and we’ve got a Prime Minister going out there to sell a few more Rafale multirole fighter aircraft and apologizing for what happens in social terms in our country,” Mr. Laurent stated on iTELE. (1)

“We find a lot of excuses for this Saudi regime, which is a rather feudal regime from the economic and political point of view,” Laurent, a Senator for Paris, insisted, adding that Saudi Arabia “is experiencing very big problems regarding human rights. There was a whole citizen mobilization regarding a young man who’s going to be beheaded. It’s the 134th execution since the year began.”

On the subject of Air France, the national secretary of the French Communist Party thought that the employees arrested on the morning of Oct. 12 had “no business being remanded into custody” and that this episode was “unworthy of the French Republic.”

“Management has filed a complaint. It has to be investigated. This may be done under completely different conditions. While regretting last week’s acts of violence, I think that the role that one should play is one of calming the situation and going back to the negotiating table,” he said.

“When I hear Manuel Valls saying ‘social dialog is necessary’ and saying in the next sentence ‘there is no alternative to management’s plan,” I think it’s perfectly abnormal. We’ve given Air France over 100 million euros in competitiveness tax credits (CICE), 66 million last year, and I don’t know how big the 2015 check is. We supposedly allocate this money to grow employment. They axe 3,000 jobs. Are we going to continue giving CICE to Air France?”

(1) iTELE is a French-speaking free-to-air news channel providing 24-hour national and global news coverage. Translator’s note

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