Aerospace firm EADS has upset two of its major shareholders – the French and German governments – for its decision to cut 5,600 jobs.
Unions have also been long opposed to the reductions which will come over the next three years as part of the reorganisation of EADS’s defence and space activities:
At a recent demonstration, worker Peter Stoerecker said: “I think what is happening here is just not right. We make a profit, we are working at full capacity.”
EADS has admited it is profitable but pointed out its profits were lower than rivals. It also said that defence and space sales are weak and if it did not respond now, even more jobs would be put at risk.
Thence the plan to cut 2,600 positions in Germany, 1,700 in France, 700 in Britain and 600 in Spain.
EADS works council head Rudiger Lutjen said the cuts will make the company less competitive and that valuable know-how will be lost: “That’s why we think the planned layoffs are unacceptable. You have to imagine what it is like for these workers; these layoffs will go on for three years – how can they work properly with this endless threat of dismissal hanging over them?”
Chief executive Tom Enders compared the move to the ‘Power8’ restructuring that was credited with bolstering Airbus in 2007.
“We had the same criticisms then: ‘You are killing the company, you are greedy and just chasing profit’. This sounds very similar and hence doesn’t disturb us too much. We know we are doing the right thing,” Enders told reporters.
“Is it good management to wait until you drive into the wall? Or is it good management to be proactive and when you see the wall is coming, you hit the brakes and take measures?”
The German economy ministry called on EADS to be “as careful and socially circumspect as possible” while the French government said it would only accept redundancies that are voluntary.
“This company makes money … and if it wants to restructure and adapt, fine. But it also has a duty … to adopt measures to avoid any redundancies,” French Labour Minister Michel Sapin said.
“For France, it will never be accepted, because it would not be acceptable, that a company like Airbus or EADS should cut overall employment while it still has the capacity to re-absorb anyone losing their job,” he told Europe 1 radio.
The company has said that of those whose jobs are disappearing 1,500 will be redeployed to Airbus commercial plane division and helicopter unit Eurocopter.