Bloomberg News

Airbus German Workers Plan Work Stoppage on Contract Dispute

October 06, 2011

Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Airbus SAS labor unions in Germany have called upon workers in Hamburg and three other production sites to stage work stoppages tomorrow after failing to agree with management on productivity increases.

Some 16,000 workers spread between Hamburg, where Airbus assembles single-aisle planes, and Bremen, Stade, and Buxtehude, where plane structures are built, have been asked to leave their work stations and gather for rallies, the IG Metall union said in a statement today.

Workers and management have been tussling over new contracts that will run through 2020. Management has already agreed to offer job guarantees and is seeking 8 percent productivity increases. Workers say that’s too much and are offering 2 percent productivity gains instead.

“Both sides agree that we need to make productivity increases, and management is waiting for them to come back to the table. It’s important to reach a conclusion,” said Florian Seidel, a spokesman for Airbus in Hamburg. Seidel said Airbus doesn’t expect the work actions to last more than an hour or two and said management is eager to resolve differences quickly.

Management and labor have different methods of calculating the productivity increases, Seidel said.

The strike is planned to stretch over three shifts at the four production centers tomorrow, said Heiko Messerschmidt, a spokesman for the IG Metall labor union for the coastal region, who spoke by telephone from Hamburg. He predicted “several thousand” workers will show up at rallies.

“We hope that these actions will put enough pressure on Airbus to return to the negotiation table,” said Messerschmidt. “We know that flexibility is a requirement, but not at any price.”

In Germany workers are required to give notice before staging any strike action. Airbus had gone to court in September to block any such action, a bid that was thrown out.

Airbus assembles single-aisle A320, A319, A321 and A318 planes in Hamburg and also assembles the bulk of the A320s in Toulouse, France, where Airbus is based.

--Editor: Benedikt Kammel

To contact the reporters on this story: Andrea Rothman in Toulouse, France, at aerothman@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net


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