Airbus Unions Planning Strikes In France, Germany And Spain

To protest the Power 8 restructuring plan, employees in three countries plan to stop work.

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) – Airbus unions said Wednesday that workers in France, Germany and Spain would strike Friday to protest the aircraft maker’s plans to cut 10,000 jobs and spin off or close six European plants.

The European Metalworkers’ Federation (EMF) said its members unions at all of Airbus’ French and German plants would stop work, while in Spain 9,000 workers at Airbus’ three factories and other sites owned by its parent company EADS would walk off the job for an hour.

But Airbus is refusing to yield to this pressure by softening its restructuring plan, union delegate Francoise Vallin said after unions met Wednesday with Airbus chief Louis Gallois at company headquarters in Toulouse, France.

“There is nothing new on the Power 8 plan. We were given a review of the restructuring process,” she said. “There is no change. Management is staying on top and isn’t backing down.”

The EMF said there would also be a mass demonstration in front of EADS headquarters in Paris and some 20,000 people were expected to join a large protest in the German port city of Hamburg, with smaller demonstrations outside Spanish production sites.

Trade unions in supplier companies based in Belgium and the Netherlands would support Airbus workers by traveling to the protests in neighboring countries, it said. There are no plans for workers to demonstrate in Brussels.

Socialist lawmakers at the European Parliament called on Airbus employees to stay firm in the face of restructuring plans, saying they would ask EADS unions to talk to them in Brussels on March 28 and 29 and had not ruled out meeting Airbus co-Chief Executive Louis Gallois at a later date.

“Management errors lie behind Airbus’ difficulties,” said Martin Schulz, the leader of the Parliament’s pan-European Socialist group. “It is all the more shocking to see today that it’s the workers who pay the price and not the shareholders.”

Gallois last week urged politicians not to interfere in how the company managed its business.

Ahead of France’s April 22-May 6 two-round presidential election, most candidates have pushed for state intervention to help rescue the company from its troubles, largely caused by a weaker U.S. dollar and a $6.5 billion profit shortfall due to the A380 superjumbo’s two-year delay.

Besides the job cuts – of which 4,300 would be made in France – Airbus plans to sell or close three plants and find industrial partners to take over and upgrade three more facilities producing fuselage and wing parts. Two of the six affected sites are in France, three in Germany and one in Britain.

The French government currently owns 15 percent of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. NV, while Paris-based Lagardere SCA owns 7.5 percent. Their combined stake is balanced by Stuttgart, Germany-based DaimlerChrysler AG, which holds 22.5 percent of voting rights in the defense group.

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