Thousands of European workers staged rallies across Europe during a strike to protest the shedding of 10,000 jobs at the European aerospace firm Airbus. Even as firms increasingly assume trans-national status, workers too are joining ranks across regions over issues that affect them.
According to reports, mass protests took place in Germany, Spain, Britain and also at the company's headquarters in Toulouse, south-west France as struggling aircraft maker Airbus announced plans last month to shed up to 10,000 jobs in order to set its finances back on track.
Europe's leading aircraft manufacturer, Airbus, has been struggling hard to get prestigious projects such as the super-jumbo A380 and the A350XWB off the ground, even as it steadily loses market share to arch rival Boeing in various segments.
The mass protests would have been even more jarring for the Airbus even as its prototype A380 is scheduled to make a much-publicized landing in the USA.
Officials of the European Metalworking Federation said in Paris that it was "important to show that European workers stand together." Solidarity aside, officials upped the ante further by warning of tougher action, including the halting of production lines, if Airbus and its parent EADS did not back down on their "Power8" restructuring plan. The proposed plan intends to cut costs by up to 5.0 billion euros ($6.6 billion) by 2010.
The mass protests on Friday took place even as some good news filtered through for the Toulouse-based giant with Qatar Airways announcing it intention to buy 80 A350 jets. At a list price of $17.2bn, the order is one of the biggest ever for Airbus.
The company has ruled out forced lay-offs for the time being, on condition that harsher measures would follow if its fortunes did not improve over the coming year and a half.
A strike in any of the four countries, France, Germany, Britain and Spain, where the manufacturer assembles its aircraft is likely to cripple production immediately. In an age of large orders and increased automation, aircraft assembly is timed to the last minute.