FRANKFURT/MUNICH (Reuters) - Members of Germany’s powerful IG Metall labor union will walk off the job at EADS EAD.PA sites next week to protest against a sweeping restructuring at the European aeronautics group that they fear will lead to thousands of job cuts.
Among others, workers at EADS in Hamburg, Bremen and the southern German town of Manching will down tools during the day in coordinated events on November 28, the union said.
EADS announced in July it would combine its defense and space subsidiaries, effective January 1, and may sell off units that are small and easily segregated from the rest.
Two industry sources told Reuters that the restructuring of EADS’s defense business would cost thousands of jobs but fewer than the 8,000 reported by German news agency DPA on Wednesday.
That figure would represent 20 percent of the roughly 40,000-strong workforce at Airbus Defence & Space.
“We clearly warn management not to make unilateral moves or go back on previously made promises,” Ruediger Luetjen, head of the company’s European works council and an IG Metall representative, said on Thursday. It was not immediately clear what promises he was referring to.
The shake-up at EADS aims to provide greater cohesion to disparate defence activities and comes a year after Chief Executive Tom Enders had to bow to political opposition to his attempt to merge with UK arms firm BAE Systems (BAES.L).
EADS declined to say how many jobs may have to go, though Enders warned last month the restructuring would require “hard measures” as job and cost cuts could not be avoided.
EADS’s site in Manching is seen at particular risk as production of the Eurofighter jet that its Cassidian unit assembles and tests there depends on winning new orders at a time when defence budgets are shrinking.
“We will keep a close eye on what EADS does and will fight for business in Bavaria,” Bavarian Economy Minister Ilse Aigner said.
EADS, in which France and Germany each hold 12 percent of shares, is due to give further details on the restructuring program, which will run through to next July, on December 9.
Sources close to EADS employee representatives said CEO Enders was due to meet works councils next week.
“We demand clear communication instead of being left waiting for answers,” IG Metall’s Luetjen said. “It’s up to management to decide whether it wants to be constructive or confrontational with us in the planned restructuring.”
An EADS spokesman in Germany declined to comment.
Reporting by Maria Sheahan and Jens Hack; Additional reporting by Sabine Siebold and Tim Hepher; Editing by Robin Pomeroy