Turbulent Times At Airbus As Unions Order One-Day Strike

Strike is to protest job cuts and closing of manufacturing plants.

PARIS (AP) - Airbus unions in France on Friday ordered a one-day strike for next week to protest planned job cuts and plant disposals at the European aircraft maker.

Shares of the parent company of Airbus, meanwhile, sank as much as 5.2 percent in the wake of the disclosure that work has been halted on the slow-selling freighter version of the A380 model.

The five main French Airbus unions called on workers at Airbus's sites across the country to stop work Tuesday in protest against 10,000 planned job cuts and the sale or closure of six plants announced by Airbus this week.

German Airbus workers may join the strike, union officials said, along with staff at other plants belonging to defense group and Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. in both countries.

In Paris, EADS shares fell as much as 5.2 percent to 23.35 euros ($30.88) as markets digested confirmation by Airbus late Thursday that work on the troubled A380 superjumbo freighter had been halted indefinitely.

The moves follows FedEx Corp.'s November decision to cancel its order for 10 A380 freighters, leaving Airbus with just 10 orders from one remaining customer, United Parcel Service Inc. Atlanta-based UPS agreed on a new timetable for deliveries with Airbus last month but said it may still decide to cancel.

No date had yet been fixed for work on the freighter program to resume, an Airbus spokeswoman said. Resources are being focused on the A380 passenger jet, whose two-year delay has wiped $6.6 billion off EADS profit forecasts for 2006-2010.

A tug of war between French and German shareholders has paralyzed EADS and Airbus and delayed the announcement of the ''Power8'' restructuring program - finally unveiled this week by Airbus CEO Louis Gallois.

Core shareholders DaimlerChrysler AG of Germany and France's Lagardere SCA are both trimming their EADS stakes. DaimlerChrysler last month sold a 7.5 percent stake to a group of banks including public institutions controlled by German regional authorities.

That move has prompted a French regions to seek to buy between 5 percent and 10 percent of the defense group to balance what they see as excessive German political influence, the president of Midi-Pyrenees in southern France said.

''We're talking about a significant investment, not a symbolic one,'' Midi-Pyrenees chief Martin Malvy said in an interview published Friday in Le Figaro, a leading French daily.

Picardie and Aquitaine, two other French regions where Airbus has factories, have already given their support, Malvy said.

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