Airbus: the tone is rising on the threat of dry layoffs

the essential
The boss of Airbus prepares the spirits for forced departures.

Dubbed Odyssey, Airbus’ restructuring plan is entering its home stretch. And the tone of the letter sent by Guillaume Faury, to all employees, augurs well for tense negotiations. The boss of Airbus wrote in particular: “I want to be transparent with you here: it seems unlikely to me that voluntary departures will be enough”. Implication: dry layoffs are to be feared.

It is by October 15 that the job protection plan (PSE) must be presented in its final version to the unions. For the record, while Airbus production has plummeted by 40% due to the crisis affecting airlines, the aeronautical group plans to cut 15,000 jobs worldwide, including 4,200 in France and 3,400 in Toulouse.

Force Ouvrière, the company’s first trade union force, was the first organization to demand very early on that no redundancies hit the employee population. The CFDT also makes this claim and asks the management to make maximum use of the tools put in place by the government to mitigate the shock. A reference to long-term partial activity (APLD) which can go up to two years to protect jobs. But Airbus only uses this APLD at a rate of 15 to 20% for 9,000 employees only from production sectors. The management “therefore does not plan to use the full potential of this system proposed by the State” regrets the union. However, it saves 1,200 jobs. Other divisions like engineering or customer support should be eligible, according to the union.

No collective performance agreement

The CFTC, for its part, offers wage moderation to avoid any dry layoffs. As for the credits released by the State to accelerate research on the green plane, they would save 500 additional jobs. In the end, there would therefore remain 2,500 jobs to be eliminated in France. However, the voluntary departure window opened by the human resources department had already received 2,400 expressions of interest from employees wishing to leave the company voluntarily at the end of August. The ticket office remains open until the end of the year. The CFDT regrets that the number of early retirements is blocked at 650 people while the volunteers would be “more than double”. But this type of measure is expensive for the companies which resort to it, because they help for example the employees to buy back quarters of pension contributions. Under these conditions, the CFDT refuses any redundancy as well as a collective performance agreement project which would erode “the statutes and benefits of employees”.

The union highlights a cash flow situation which has improved markedly thanks to the “cash containment” operation launched very early by management. Twelve billion euros should be saved in 2020 while the balance of outgoing and incoming cash will be found by the end of the year thanks to slightly higher deliveries (read box below).

500 aircraft delivered in 2020

Guillaume Faury wrote to employees on Friday: the crisis will be deeper and longer than expected. The urgency this year was to avoid burning cash. Securing the cash flow was the priority. Not easy when deliveries go from 70 planes per month before the crisis to 39 last August. Today, production plans suggest 50 planes delivered per month until the end of the year, or around 500 in 2020. This pace allows Airbus to achieve a fragile balance. But subcontractors do not have this financial agility. The end of the year promises to be very delicate for the entire industry.

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