It never rains but it pours: EADS says retalliation to job cuts will hurt workers moreImage: AP
EADS Warns of Losses
DW staff / AFP (emw)
February 6, 2007
Cutting defence contracts in retaliation for German jobs losses would simply hurt more German workers, co-chairman of the European Aeronautics Defence and Space Company (EADS) Thomas Enders told Berlin Tuesday.
Enders was responding in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung to a veiled threat by Berlin to review its defence contracts should the restructuring of EADS's plane-making unit Airbus hit German workers more than French workers
On Sunday, economy minister Michael Glos said Berlin would "review" its contracts with the European Aeronautics Defence and Space Company (EADS) if the restructuring of its Airbus subsidiary hit Germany more than other countries.
"We insist that Germany must remain a high technology site for Airbus, in particular as far as fuselage construction is concerned," Glos told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper last week. "If this is not the case, then Germany will have to review its defense contracts with the mother company.
"Current plans for cutbacks in jobs and a relocation of advanced technology are in no way acceptable to us," he added. Germany, particularly the defence ministry, is one of EADS' largest clients.
Contracts good for Germany
Berlin has since sought to play down Glos' comments. "The comments have been overinterpreted a little," government spokesman Thomas Steg said on Monday. "We're expressing clearly our interests, but we're not making any threats."
"The German government's defence contracts with EADS are carried out almost exclusively in Germany, which helps German jobs and lots of small suppliers," Enders said. "We don't actually have too much of defence industry here."
Asked by the newspaper whether that meant cancelling contracts would harm Germany, Enders replied: "I'd see it that way. I don't know how that would help boost German interests."
Jumbo job cuts
Airbus has been plagued by production problems in its A380 superjumbo program and is soon to unveil drastic cost-cutting plans, with German unions concerned that up to 8,000 German jobs could be on the line. Airbus employs a total 23,000 people on a full-time basis at
seven sites in Germany, plus a further 6,300 part-time.
Enders refused to be pinned down on the possible number of job cuts in Germany. "The decisions have not been taken yet," he said. But he added: "Some of the horror scenarios that have painted recently simply don't match reality ... Our order books are full. Our plants, the German ones too, are booked up for years."
Chancellor Angela Merkel planned to meet with EADS head Louis Gallois before he announces major cost cuts at Airbus later this month, according to the weekly news magazine Der Spiegel.
Germans not abandoned
Enders said it was his task as German co-chairman to ensure that "unavoidable hardships are distributed fairly on the different national shoulders. And as far as German industrial interests are concerned, the German co-chairman and DaimlerChrysler are there to make sure they're not left by the wayside."
German Airbus employees staged countrywide demonstrations on Feb. 2 in protest against the restructuring plans they fear could lead to the loss of up to 8,000 jobs in Germany.
Enders insisted that his primary goal was to take the company forward. Future Airbus models could, for example, be more closely tied with specific sites. "It doesn't make sense for the final assembly to take place at several different sites," Enders said.