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Last Updated: Friday, 16 March 2007, 19:03 GMT
Airbus workers protest over cuts
Protesters in the southwestern France city of Blagnac
Airbus has pledged to avoid compulsory redundancies

Thousands of Airbus workers have taken to the streets across Europe in a fresh wave of protests against job cuts planned at the struggling firm.

Staff in France, Germany, the UK and Spain stopped work in a co-ordinated series of demonstrations against plans to cut 10,000 jobs.

There have been regular stoppages since Airbus revealed its radical retrenchment plan earlier this month.

Airbus says its costs are too high and must be reduced to speed up production.

Widespread anger

Airbus has fallen behind main rival Boeing in terms of new orders and the huge cost of building its new A380 and A350 models is weighing it down.

It is proposing to sell or close three of its 16 European factories and is looking for new investment partners for a further three sites.

Tens of thousands of workers vented their anger at the scale of the proposed cuts, designed to save 5bn euros by 2010.

We have shown that workers at the European level are speaking with a single voice
Peter Scherrer, European Metalworkers Federation

Union officials said 25,000 people gathered in the centre of Hamburg, where the company's principal German plant is located, although police put the figure at closer to 10,000.

Mass demonstrations also took place at four sites in France, including the firm's home city of Toulouse, and at seven locations in Spain.

The European Metalworkers Federation said all its staff belonging to affiliated unions at factories in France and Germany participated in the action.

"We have shown that workers at the European level are speaking with a single voice," said Peter Scherrer, the Federation's director.

The stoppages are designed to keep the pressure on the firm's management and elicit political support ahead of presidential elections in France next month.

Germany's IG Metall union said it was waiting for more details of the restructuring proposals from management so that it could propose "better solutions".

Airbus has pledged not to enforce any compulsory redundancies, saying half the cuts will be made among temporary staff and sub-contractors.


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