Colomiers (AFP)

The government on Thursday asked Airbus not to resort to forced departures as part of its social plan and will be "vigilant" by following "very closely how public money will be used".

"The challenge today is to move towards zero forced departure", said Thursday in Colomiers, on an Airbus site in the Toulouse metropolitan area, the Minister for Industry Agnès Pannier-Runacher, after meeting representatives of management and unions.

The European aircraft manufacturer is facing a crisis of unprecedented magnitude due to the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic on air transport.

"The second issue is to ensure that young people are not sacrificed in terms of jobs. The third issue is at the level of subcontracting, we must be able to ensure that our industrial base can be consolidated, (...) so as not to lose industrial density ", added the minister during a press briefing.

Airbus announced in early July a plan to cut jobs which threatens 5,000 jobs in France, including more than 3,500 in Toulouse where the group and its subsidiaries employ 25,000 people. The sites of Saint-Nazaire (nearly 600 jobs lost) and Nantes (nearly 500) are also affected.

"I had a very good discussion with the trade unions and the managers of the company" and "I believe that the management of Airbus is aware that the French State has taken its responsibilities and has put a lot of money on the table ", she assured, referring to the aeronautics aid plan of 15 billion euros.

"I come here in a spirit of construction but also of vigilance. I consider that thanks to public money, we must have counterparts", continued the minister, assuring to want "to follow very closely the way in which public money will be employed, to ensure that everyone around the table makes an effort so that together we save the industry ".

"I believe in social dialogue. My responsibility is to be vigilant and to support this plan", she insisted, recalling that "if the State had not been there (. ..), there would have been a haemorrhage of jobs in aeronautics ".

For Dominique Delbouis, FO coordinator of the Airbus group, the objective of "zero forced departures", "this is exactly what we are asking". "We are completely satisfied" that the government is resuming this objective, he said.

On long-term unemployment, "our demand is to go up to 36 months", against 24 currently, added to the press the head of the first union at Airbus. He set as another major issue in the negotiations, "everything that will affect the tax on early departures".

For the CFTC also, "the real stake remains the + zero compulsory dismissal +".

The unions hope that early, voluntary departures, a long-term partial activity and training devices, will reduce the scope of the plan.

© 2020 AFP