French government ready to intervene on Airbus strike

29th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

The French government threatened Thursday to step in to settle a contract dispute at Airbus after nearly a week of strikes at the planemaker's three French sites disrupted production.

Since Monday, unions at three Airbus plants have organised a string of rotating strikes on assembly lines to press demands for higher pay and oppose moves to shift production to Germany.

"Let's see what happens in the coming hours and days," said Industry Minister Christian Estrosi.

"If the situation is resolved that would be for the best, but if not, we will obviously intervene in terms of a mediation," Estrosi told Europe 1 radio.

Airbus, which built a record 498 planes last year, has said its production has not been paralysed by the strikes and has refused to raise its offer of a 1.9 percent pay hike for 2010.

The unions are demanding 3.5 percent and fear their jobs are on the line after Airbus decided to shift production of its medium-haul A320 to Germany.

Estrosi said the A320 would continue to be produced in Toulouse until 2020-2025 and that French factories will still make long-haul planes such as the A380, the A330 and the A350.

Airbus has 20,000 employees building planes in the main factory in Toulouse, southern France, and in plants in Nantes and Saint-Nazaire, in the west.

© 2010 AFP

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