Wildcat Strikes at Two German Airbus Plants

Workers upset about plan to spin factories into a new subsidiary

Staff at three Airbus plants in Germany staged wildcat strikes on Nov. 20 over plans by the European jet maker to spin off the factories into a new subidiary, a company spokesman said.

The work stoppages hit the Varel and Nordenham facilities in northern Germany, coming on the same day as industrial action at a plant in the southern city of Augsburg belonging to the parent company EADS. Airbus sought a court injuction against the strikes in Varel and Nordenham.

The company aims to group the three sites with some 6,000 staff at the end of the year in the new EADS unit Premium Aerotec. The works council has called the terms of the deal for employees "unacceptable."

The company has asked staff to contribute to savings of 30 million euros (US$38 million) in its operations, amounting to some 5,000 euros per worker. Labor representatives say they should not bear the brunt of the restructuring program, particularly without any guarantees from the company on jobs at the plants.

The supervisory board of Airbus Germany plans to ink an agreement on the spinoff at a meeting on Nov. 24, works council officials said. An Airbus spokesman declined to confirm the deadline but expressed confidence "that we will be able to reach a deal with the works council soon."

With the creation of the new subsidiary, Airbus plans to create the world's biggest supplier for aeronautic structural components. Airbus had originally intended under its vast Power 8 restructuring plan introduced last year to sell the three plants. But talks with the German company MT Aerospace failed earlier this year, as did attempts in France to sell the Saint Nazaire Ville and Meaulte factories. Plans for the new EADS unit Aerolia to assume the management of the two sites has also met with resistance from staff there.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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