Airbus reaches deal to avoid firing thousands of people in Germany

Airbus reaches deal to avoid firing thousands of people in Germany
A banner reading "Safe work for all" hangs outside the factory gates of the aircraft manufacturer Airbus in Hamburg-Finkenwerder. Photo: DPA
European aircraft maker Airbus has reached an agreement to avoid thousands of forced redundancies in Germany as it reels from the coronavirus pandemic, the German metalworkers' union IG Metall said Thursday.

Airbus had previously announced plans to slash around 5,100 posts in Europe’s biggest economy.

But the deal means there will be no one forced to leave the company until the end of 2023.

Rather, the cuts will be achieved through voluntary redundancies and hours reductions, the union said.

“The threatened layoffs are no longer on the table,” said IG Metall regional director Daniel Friedrich in a statement.

He added that a “months-long marathon of negotiations” had ended with a decision in favour of “intelligent solutions rather than layoffs”.

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The negotiated solution is based on a combination of voluntary redundancies, relocating workers and reduced hours.

It includes the extension of the shorter hours furlough scheme until the end of 2021.

“The decision of Airbus management to rule out forced redundancies is a huge relief for all of us,” said Holger Junge, head of the Airbus workers’ council.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Junge noted that jobs had been saved despite the “immense” economic blow which Airbus had suffered in the last year.

Airbus, and the aviation sector as a whole, has been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis and the resulting collapse in air travel, posting a net loss of 1.1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in 2020.

At the end of June, the company said it was planning to cut around 15,000 jobs worldwide – 11 percent of its total workforce.

The posts that are due to go included 5,100 of 55,000 in Germany.

The company said the cuts were in response to the pandemic, which had triggered the “gravest crisis” the industry had ever seen.

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