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Airbus workers protest over cuts

A fresh wave of protests against proposed job cuts at planemaker Airbus is taking place across Europe.

Staff in France, Germany, the UK and Spain have stopped work in a co-ordinated series of demonstrations against plans to cut 10,000 jobs. Unions have mounted regular stoppages since Airbus revealed its radical retrenchment plan earlier this month. Airbus argues its costs are far too high and must be reduced to speed up production and improve competitiveness. Airbus has fallen behind main rival Boeing in terms of new orders and the huge cost of building its new A380 and A350 models is weighing it down. It is proposing to sell or close three of its 16 European factories and is looking for new investment partners for a further three sites.

Tens of thousands of workers took to the streets to vent their anger at the scale of the cuts, designed to save €5 billion ($6.6 billion) by 2010. About 10,000 people gathered in the centre of Hamburg, where the company's principal German plant is located. Demonstrations are taking place across France and Spain while more than 1,000 people have met in the British town of Chester, close to the firm's plant in Broughton. The European Metalworkers Federation said all its staff belonging to affiliated unions at factories in France and Germany would participate in the action. „This restructuring plan will have dramatic consequences but is not justified,” union leaders from all four affected countries said in a joint statement. The stoppages are designed to keep the pressure on the firm's management and elicit political support ahead of presidential elections in France next month. Airbus has pledged not to enforce any compulsory redundancies, saying half the cuts will be made among temporary staff and sub-contractors. (BBC NEWS)