French unions at the European plane maker Airbus have called their members out on strike today. Airbus has flown to the top of the political agenda since 10,000 job cuts were announced last month, around half of them in France. The presidential frontrunners are keen to be seen to be committed to fighting for workers’ rights.
Centre-right candidate Nicolas Sarkozy vowed to renegotiate the shareholding pact which limits state involvement in parent company EADS.
“We need to re-examine the pact negotiated by the last Socialist government, as this is what has led Airbus into this current crisis,” he told reporters on a visit to Toulouse.
On a trip to Berlin, Socialist Segolene Royal backed a share take-up by French regions along similar lines to one by German federal states.
“I would like the powers-that-be to agree to our demand allowing regions to buy into the company along the lines of the German model,” she remarked during a press conference. The French government has responded to the election sabre-rattling by saying it is ready to pump cash into the ailing plane maker in the event of a call for a capital increase. Ministers also called on EADS to abandon plans to pay its yearly dividend to shareholders.
EADS has not commented, except to say that a call for a financial leg-up from partners is not imminent.