Airbus seeks government compromises to save jobs


Airbus unveiled its plan to cut 15,000 jobs among its workforce, including 5,000 in France and 5,100 in Germany. However, the manufacturer says that some of those positions could be saved through state-funded employment schemes.

Since the presentation of the restructuring plan, Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus, said he expected state support when it came to preserving some of the jobs that are currently threatened. The French and German states each own 11% shares in the European manufacturer. 

A day after the plan was presented, the French Secretary of State for Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari estimated that the state aid systems could make it possible to “save” 2,000 jobs in the country, out of the 5,000 positions targeted. 

Two thirds of them could be preserved through the extension of the partial employment scheme. The remaining 500 would be engineers affected notably to the development of a low-carbon aircraft program sponsored by the state.

Through similar initiatives such as the Kurzarbeit (partial employment) system, up to 1,500 jobs could hypothetically be saved in Germany.

Another request from Airbus to governments was to ease the early retirement of senior employees to preserve the positions of younger ones. 

However, in the imminent negotiations with their employer, the French trade unions intend to request that two departures would lead to one hiring, as a way to ensure the transmission of skills. 

Both German and French unions disapprove of the restructuring plan. The German IG Metall union accused Airbus of hiding behind the coronavirus to impose a downsizing plan. As for the French unions (namely CFE-CGC, FO, CFTC and CFDT), they unanimously said they were “drawing the line” at forced departures. 

In the United Kingdom, where 1,700 jobs out of 11,000 are at stake, the Unite union attacked the government of Boris Johnson for its apparent inactivity. “The UK government is watching from the sidelines while a national asset is destroyed,” said the union, “UK aerospace workers deserve the same support and investment that Mr Macron and Ms Merkel provide to their workers.”

As soon as the restructuring plan is presented in detail on July 2, 2020, negotiations with worker representatives and governments are expected to begin.


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