Airbus workers strike and march against job cuts

6th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

TOULOUSE, France, March 6, 2007 (AFP) - Thousands of workers from four Airbus factories across France went on strike on Tuesday, marching against plans for 10,000 job cuts behind banners emblazoned with the names of their plant or unions.

TOULOUSE, France, March 6, 2007 (AFP) - Thousands of workers from four Airbus factories across France went on strike on Tuesday, marching against plans for 10,000 job cuts behind banners emblazoned with the names of their plant or unions.

"People are very motivated ... it's going to be a very big success," said Jean-Francois Knepper, an official of the main Force Ouvriere union at Airbus told AFP in Paris.

French trade unions have announced a test of strength with the centre-right government and the main shareholders in the Airbus parent company, EADS, over the plan to slash jobs and make huge production cost savings.

At the headquarters of the European aircraft maker here in southwestern France, 7,000 workers according to police estimates, began to demonstrate in the city centre, an AFP journalist reported.

Among the demonstrators were several national trade union leaders.

Shares in EADS have slumped because of scepticism in investment circles that the restructuring can be applied in the face of a highly unionised workforce and political pressures.

On Tuesday, French union sources said that unions in the group across Europe were considering a collective day of protest on March 16 in Brussels.

The plans for a Europe-wide day of action come despite tensions between French and German trades unions within Airbus over the distribution of cuts, and reallocation of work, under the restructuring plan.

The demonstrations in France on Tuesday were set against a backdrop of campaigning for a presidential election at the end of April.

In the last few days the leading candidates have signalled in different ways that they would consider involvement by the French state in any steps to recapitalise Airbus's parent group, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company.

The main shareholders in EADS are the German group DaimlerChrysler, Lagardere of France and the French state.

At two factories at Saint-Nazaire on the southwest Atlantic coast, about 90 percent of workers went on strike and were to demonstrate in the town centre, the Force Ouvriere (Worker Strength) trade union said.

Part of one of the sites at Saint-Nazaire is to be sold under a sweeping restructuring plan announced by Airbus last week.

The two sites employ about 2,400 people, most of whom had downed tools for two hours in protest when the plan was announced last Wednesday.

Another demonstration was also planned for later in the day in the western town of Nantes.

At a factory at Meaulte further north, 1,000 people according to an estimate by police, and 1,500 according to union sources, began a demonstration at the gates and were to march more than two kilomteres (about a mile) to the town of Albert.

The factory employs 1,300 people.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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