In a significant development, major French unions have signed a keenly awaited labor deal with Airbus which covers job reductions and furloughs for production workers who have been affected by coronavirus-blighted demand for passenger jets.
The development comes in the wake of three months of negotiations with trade unions which represent a majority of the planemaker’s French workers and paves the way for 4,200 job reductions in France.
In a statement the unions said, the agreement will prevent compulsory redundancies; Airbus’ CEO Guillaume Faury has however warned that voluntary measures will not be sufficient to mitigate the risks the planemaker is facing due to the coronavirus-induced pandemic which has literally brought the travel industry to a halt.
Unions have also signed an agreement implementing government-backed furlough schemes for up to 30% of French employees mainly involved in production work. The deal sees Airbus cutting 15,000 job cuts among its more than 130,000 staff.
It however said, “1,500 jobs could be spared if government backing remains for furloughs and 500 others could be saved by French government funding on a new carbon-free aircraft project”.
The agreements are effective from January 1, 2021.
“During the restructuring, we have reached our goal of having zero compulsory layoffs, which was our red line,” said Jean-François Knepper, the negotiator for the Force Ouvriere union while adding, “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”.
Airbus workers have until December 31 to sign up for voluntary redundancy; however this deadline could be extended upto March 31.
Incidentally, the CGT union, a minority, refused to back the package, saying it failed to rule out compulsory layoffs or help most staff.