Employees of aircraft maker Airbus in Flintshire are voting on a plan to reduce their work hours to save jobs.
The proposal to cut work hours was made after Airbus announced its plan last year tp reduce jobs at the Broughton plant in Flintshire by 1,435 employees. This was part of Airbus’ announcement last July to layoff 15,000 workers over the next 12 months.
Layoffs at Airbus
In last year’s layoff announcement, Airbus cited plunging demand for new aircraft due to the travel crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The proposed job cuts represent more than 10% of its total workforce.
In a statement, the aircraft producer said the move was in response to a 40% drop in activity in its commercial aircraft business in recent months, and expectations that the recovery will be slow.
The firm stated: “Airbus is grateful for the government support that has enabled the company to limit these necessary adaptation measures. However with air traffic not expected to recover to pre-Covid levels before 2023 and potentially as late as 2025, Airbus now needs to take additional measures to reflect the post Covid-19 industry outlook.”
Airbus, which has 134,000 employees globally, is based in France but has production facilities in Germany, Spain and the UK.
However, Airbus pointed out that it will try to lessen the number of layoffs by offering voluntary departures, early retirement and long-term partial employment programs.
Airbus chief executive officer (CEO) Guillaume Faury said: “Airbus is facing the gravest crisis this industry has ever experienced. The measures we have taken so far have enabled us to absorb the initial shock of this global pandemic.”
“Now, we must ensure that we can sustain our enterprise and emerge from the crisis as a healthy, global aerospace leader, adjusting to the overwhelming challenges of our customers,” Faury added.
Work hours vote
Up to 3,500 members of the Unite union will vote on reducing the work week and results will determine whether the working week of the site’s 6,000 employees could be reduced.
While many workers have opted for schemes including voluntary redundancies, reduction in the working week could help to avoid compulsory redundancies. Between 350 and 400 workers are still at risk of losing their jobs.
It was reported that if the workers would vote in favor of the proposal, they would face a reduction of 10% in their work hours.
While Airbus will shoulder a third of the shortfall in salaries, the employees will still lose around 6.6% of their pay as a result of the arrangement. It will be implemented for 12 months once the UK government furlough scheme comes to an end.
Last year, a senior US Trade Representative official announced the plan to place tariffs on the exports from Europe after the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that the US could target goods from EU nations because they had failed to comply with an earlier ruling regarding government subsidies for Airbus.
In response, the European Union (EU) decided to push thru with its plan to impose tariffs on $4 billion worth of US goods as penalty for US subsidies for Boeing. The EU tariffs, which were authorized by the WTO, will be imposed on several US products, including tractors, ketchup and orange juice.
The UK, however, decided not to impose tariffs on US goods over subsidies for aerospace firms, in order to reach a post-Brexit trade deal.