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Troubled Airbus cuts jobs

Toulouse (France), Feb. 28 (Reuters): Troubled planemaker Airbus confirmed 10,000 job cuts and announced plans to sell all or part of six factories today, as workers protested and politicians hailed a hard-fought compromise.

Airbus chief executive Louis Gallois set forth a stark vision of a Franco-German company that needed to find billions of euros in savings and leave behind nationalist infighting he deemed “poison”.

“We need to be interested in the future of Airbus and for that we need to be one integrated company,” he said of a company whose push for reforms had dominated a recent Franco-German summit. Gallois told reporters Airbus will cut 5,000 staff and 5,000 workers contracted from other firms over the next four years.

Some 4,300 jobs in France, 3,700 in Germany, 1,600 in Britain and 400 in Spain are expected to go. Cutting 5,000 of its own staff would reduce the Airbus workforce of 55,000 by 9 percent.

The figures do not include some 3,000 staff at three sites due to be sold off — St Nazaire in France and Varel and Laupheim in Germany.

There were protests at Airbus factories in France at Meaulte and St Nazaire and unions warned of wider walkouts. Several hundred assembly workers also stopped work in Toulouse.

“It will be a (call to) strike, but perhaps a strike is not enough,” European works council chairman Jean-Francois Knepper told France’s LCI TV before the meeting with Gallois.

The shake-up comes after a two-year delay in delivering the A380 superjumbo put a 5-billion-euro ($6.61 billion) hole in expected earnings at parent firm EADS.

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