German workers hit the streets to protest restructuring at EADS

City A.M. Reporter
MORE than 20,000 workers from European aerospace group EADS took to the streets in Germany yesterday to protest against restructuring plans they fear could cost thousands of jobs.

Protests were held at about 30 sites, from the company’s Airbus factories near Hamburg in the north to its Eurofighter jet assembly plant in Bavaria’s Manching in the south.

“This has been a clear warning that the employees of EADS will not accept decisions made to their disadvantage and over their heads,” said Ruediger Luetjen, head of the company’s European works council and an IG Metall union representative.

EADS, part-owned by the French and German governments, is planning to combine its defence and space subsidiaries next year and has said it might sell some operations.

The company is due to announce details of the shake-up on 9 December, but labour representatives have called on EADS to show its hand sooner to ease workers’ concerns after reports that several thousand jobs will be axed.

EADS has about 140,000 employees around the world, of which about 50,000 are in Germany.

“What is happening here is just not right,” said Peter Stoerecker, one of about 1,000 workers who joined a rally in Manching. Workers waved red flags emblazoned with the logo of Germany’s IG Metall union and blew on red plastic whistles as they marched through snowy weather, accompanied by a brass band.

EADS wants to streamline a collection of German, French and Spanish businesses that created the company in 2000, as part of plans to double margins to 10 per cent by mid-decade and gain a global lift from Airbus.

“We understand the concerns of our workers,” an EADS spokesman said, adding that the company is working on the details of its restructuring.