Spontaneous walkouts hit Airbus across Europe


1,000 workers downed tools in Germany's Laupheim Airbus plant yesterday as other wildcat walkouts occurred across France and Germany as huge job cuts were announced.

Submitted by Steven. on March 2, 2007

The BBC reported that Protests have taken place at Airbus plants for a second day after it announced huge job cuts, while future strike action remains possible.

About 1,000 workers stopped work at the Laupheim plant in southern Germany, in protest at the aviation firm's decision to consider selling the site.

This followed a spontaneous walk-out by staff at Nordenham and reports of other stoppages at factories in France.

Airbus wants to cut 10,000 jobs by 2010 to make the business more competitive.

The IG Metall union said staff would not resume work at Nordenham until Friday.

Meanwhile, French union Force Ouvriere said a half-day national strike had been called for 2 March. All four factories in France, including the company's main production facility in Toulouse, could be affected.

But the European Metalworkers Federation said there was no concerted strike action and it would only consider its response after meeting with Airbus management on 5 March.

"Any strikes or stoppages taking place are local and spontaneous actions," a union spokesman said.

Unions have expressed anger at the scale of the company's plans, which would see a total of 8,000 jobs being lost in France and Germany.

While Airbus has said it would not force any compulsory redundancies, unions have promised to defend jobs and have not ruled out industrial action.

Prolonged strikes would be hugely damaging for Airbus, which has admitted its current financial position is "unsustainable".

As well as Laupheim, Germany's Varel site and the French factory of Saint-Nazaire are set to be sold or potentially closed, affecting some 3,000 workers.

Airbus is also looking for new investors for a further three sites, including Filton in the UK.

British unions are seeking talks with ministers in an effort to avert the 1,600 job cuts earmarked for Filton and the firm's other factory at Broughton.

Airbus said the restructuring was necessary because of the weakness of the US dollar and a series of major setbacks to its flagship A380 superjumbo project (pictured under construction, above).

It said the proposed changes would speed up production and improve the quality and reliability of its planes.

Scotsman.com stated that Airbus said it would shut two plants in Germany and seek a partner for another. Workers at the affected plants retaliated by walking out in protest over job cuts they said will hit local communities hard.

"I couldn't believe the news. I just couldn't believe it," Joachim Gramberg said as he walked off his shift at the Varel Airbus plant -- one of three in Europe set to be closed down.

"We used to build 200 planes a year when we were doing great and now we are even making 438 a year and it's still the end."

Around 3,700 Airbus workers at plants in Germany stand to lose their jobs as part of the restructuring measures, with Varel and Laupheim, another factory in the southwest of the country, set to be shut.