Airbus layoffs unite German, French, British and Spanish workers.

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Airbus layoffs unite German, French, British and Spanish workers.

by Ben Weinthal | Wed, 05/09/2007 - 12:03am Excerpt: Thousands of workers across Europe walked off the job from late February through April, protesting plans by Airbus, Europe’s largest plane manufacturer, to cut some 10,000 jobs. In four different countries, Airbus workers struck intermittently, severely disrupting the company’s production. Airbus employs 57,000 workers across Europe. . . . Story Body: Thousands of workers across Europe walked off the job from late February through April, protesting plans by Airbus, Europe’s largest plane manufacturer, to cut some 10,000 jobs. In four different countries, Airbus workers struck intermittently, severely disrupting the company’s production. Airbus employs 57,000 workers across Europe. From February 28 through March 5, 4850 German Airbus workers participated in wildcat strikes. More than 4300 French Airbus workers also walked off the job during the second week of March.

COORDINATED STRIKES

On March 16, thousands of Airbus workers in Germany, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom led a coordinated, international walkout. Some 20,000 Airbus workers rallied in Hamburg, Germany that day. A week later, hundreds of workers struck at the Airbus plant in Broughton, Wales. In France, strikes continued into April, with some 2,500 workers showing up for an April 3 protest at the company’s headquarters in Toulouse. The strikers were protesting Airbus’s “Power 8” layoff plan, under which the company would sell off plants across Europe, including three in Germany, eliminating some 10,000 jobs. Michael Braun, representative for IG Metall, the union representing the German workers, said that the 1200 workers at Airbus’s Laupheim plant in southern Germany (slated for closing under the Power 8 plan), are “shocked and frustrated,” but are showing a “willingness to fight.”

WORKING TO RULE

Since the walkouts ended, Laupheim workers have shifted to an in-plant strategy. A work-to-rule campaign, including refusing to accept overtime work, is inflicting pressure on Airbus management, according to Braun. 2300 IG Metall members at Airbus’s Nordenham plant (also slated for closing) are also running a work-to-rule campaign. According to IG Metall rep Martin Schindler, Nordenham managers have been complaining about the work-to rule action and workers’ refusal of overtime shifts. The third German plant targeted by Airbus for sale and possible layoffs is Varel, which is located, like the Nordenham plant, in the state of Niedersachsen. Hartmut Tammen-Henke, the IG Metall rep for Varel, said that the plant’s 1350 workers are “very much in a fighting mode.” Tammen Henke noted that the members “fear a sale” because both jobs and “collectively bargained conditions” could be eliminated. That could spell longer hours of work, according to Tammen-Henke.

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