Airbus workers agree to shorter working week to save jobs

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2-min read
Airbus said in June that it was likely to cut 5,000 posts in France, 5,100 in Germany, 900 in Spain, 1,700 in the UK, and 1,300 elsewhere by mid-2021. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters
Airbus said in June that it was likely to cut 5,000 posts in France, 5,100 in Germany, 900 in Spain, 1,700 in the UK, and 1,300 elsewhere by mid-2021. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters

European plane-maker Airbus (AIR.F) is reassessing its employees work week in its site in Flintshire in an attempt to save jobs, as the company swims against the tide of coronavirus-related airline groundings.

A ballot of up to 3,500 members of the Unite union voted in favour of a working hours cut for employees at the Welsh plant.

The site employs 6,000 people and it is thought that between 350 and 400 jobs were under threat before the action.

The BBC reported that it is hoped the reduction in working hours could help avoid compulsory redundancies and that it could mean a 10% reduction in hours.

In a regular five-day working week, this would cut around half a day of work.

Broughton Head of Plant, Jerome Blandin, said: “We are delighted the Trade Union members have supported a proposal which was rooted in helping save jobs at the Plant.

“The shorter working week increases our flexibility and will help us manage the downturn in demand we are facing. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with the TU on the implementation of the new working arrangements at the appropriate time.”

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In June, Airbus announced that it would cut 15,000 jobs within a year as the COVID-19 pandemic brought air travel to a standstill.

At the time, Francoise Vallin of the CFE-CGC union said “it's going to be a mighty battle to save jobs.”

Airbus revealed that it was likely to cut 5,000 posts in France, 5,100 in Germany, 900 in Spain, 1,700 in the UK, and 1,300 elsewhere by mid-2021, for a core total of 14,000.

At the end of June, Faury said that he expects production at the European aircraft manufacturer to be down by 40% this year and next year. In April, Faury told employees in a memo seen by media outlets including Reuters and Bloomberg that the company is “bleeding cash” and needs to rapidly cut costs in order to survive the impact from the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), published in January, revealed airlines will need another $70-$80bn (£52-£59bn) cash injection in order to get them through the coronavirus crisis.

The news comes on the same day Ryanair’s (RYA.L) quarterly results showed that it had sustained a £270m loss. Its shares slipped as the budget airline said COVID-19 “continues to wreak havoc,” with passenger numbers crashing by 78% year-on-year to eight million in the final three months of last year.

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