Amicus presses Airbus to keep its British manufacturing base

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The Independent Online

Leaders of 8,000 British Airbus workers urged the aircraft maker yesterday to keep its substantial manufacturing base in the UK amid fears that management is about to announce job losses.

Representatives of the engineering union Amicus met the Airbus chief operating officer Fabrice Brégier in Paris and made a "robust case" for retaining the capacity in Britain.

Bernie Hamilton, aerospace officer at Amicus, said after the meeting the union was able to make a strong argument for the UK to remain as a centre of excellence for wing manufacture.

Amicus also called on M. Brégier to ensure that Britain would have a "strong position" in developing and using carbon fibre technology which was essential for the long-term future of Airbus in Britain.

As part of the exercise to refocus the group, Airbus UK could lose out to sister plants in Germany or Spain in securing £100m investment for the next generation of the company's aircraft. That could have serious implications for the long-term manufacturing presence of Airbus in the UK - Airbus designs and makes its wings at Broughton in north Wales and Filton near Bristol.

The discussions came as the German government pledged to fight any restructuring plans by the aircraft maker which would mean a disproportionate number of redundancies in Germany.

German ministers are concerned that their country will bear the brunt of the cutbacks, to be announced on 20 February, because the Airbus headquarters and main assembly plant is in France.

Michael Glos, German economy minister, said before talks with the Airbus parent company EADs: "The Airbus is also a German product and not just a French one - and we will keep an eye on that. We will go into the negotiations self-confidently. We are, after all, the largest customer for EADs on the military side."

Germany is concerned that Paris has too much influence on EADs, because the French government jointly owns, with France's Lagardère, a 29.96 per cent stake in the group.

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