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Airbus reaches agreement with French unions, 4,200 jobs to be cut

written by Hannah Dowling | October 13, 2020
The first A330-800 takes off on its maiden flight. (Airbus)

French unions have signed a long-awaited labour deal with European planemaker Airbus, which will limit job losses and furloughs for production workers in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

After months of negotiations, labour unions representing a majority of Airbus’ French workforce have signed an agreement that will see 4,200 job cuts in France, including 3,400 in the manufacturer’s hub of Toulouse.

Unions claim that the now signed agreement will prevent non-voluntary redundancies, however Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury recently warned staff that voluntary measures would not be enough to keep the company afloat.

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The unions also signed an agreement to implement government-backed furlough schemes for up to 30 per cent of the company’s French workforce, mostly in production line jobs.

Airbus had previously stated it would be required to cut 15,000 jobs among its 130,000-strong workforce, particularly as the COVID-19 crisis extends longer than anticipated.

The company has now said that 1,500 of those jobs could be spared if the government continues to back furloughs, as well as another 500 saved through French government funding on a new carbon-free aircraft project.

The negotiated agreements are due to take effect on 1 January.

“During the restructuring, we have reached our goal of having zero compulsory layoffs, which was our red line,” Jean-François Knepper, negotiator for the Force Ouvriere union, told the media.

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Any shortfalls in the number of people agreeing to leave, compared with Airbus’ target, could be met by prolonging the sign-up period or restricting salaries for a further year, he added.

Airbus workers have until 31 December to sign up for voluntary redundancy, however that deadline could be extended to 31 March.

The minority CGT union refused to back the package, saying it failed to rule out compulsory layoffs or help most staff.

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