Airbus Defense and Space is in its third week of consolidation in an unprecedented gathering of workers from the company’s various sites in the same place for a show of strength. They gathered 350 people under the glass building that houses the management’s offices this Tuesday, March 29. For almost two hours, the employees, at the call of the inter-union CGT-CFDT-UNSA, demonstrated around the site of the Palace, on the outskirts of Toulouse, demanding a salary increase up to current inflation figures.
As a reminder, Airbus Defense & Space’s management wants to avoid unionization of the company’s workers by proposing a two-year plan that is supposed to act as a firewall if economic conditions deteriorate. For this reason, a general salary increase of 2% is proposed for the period 2022-2023, although the Banque de France is announcing inflation of 5.1% for 2022. To this should be added a more modest increase of 1.3% for subsequent years These general increments should be supplemented with individual increments, so employees should be differentiated accordingly. This proposal, which should work in the “head” of the worker, will only have the effect of intensifying competition among workers to receive these increases (1.9% for the first year proposed by management).
In short, these increases, below inflation, will be reflected in lower real wages for group employees. As we wrote last week: The economic crisis linked to the pandemic, accentuated by the war in Ukraine, suggests much higher inflation than management’s risky forecasts. Additionally, employees already have a lot to lose in 2021. Management “expects” inflation to be below 1%, as opposed to 2.8% inflation that has never been compensated. »
Against these measures, which only translate into management humiliation for employees, inter-union stands demanding wage increases that are indexed to inflation. CGT Defense & Space has demanded a 7.1% growth plan for 2022. A realistic proposition in the face of a staggering increase in profits at giant Airbus, which broke a record in 2021 with profits of 4.2 billion euros. For Airbus Defense and Space Strikers, Friday will be decisive for the outcome of the fight. On this day the agreement should be negotiated and signed by the unions as proposed by management (CFE-CGC), the inter-union CGT-CFDT-UNSA which has so far refused to sign the agreement.
Unprecedented struggle for wages that raises the question of unity
Airbus is not the only contractor in the defense and space sector to strike. A few kilometers away from the Airbus site, Thales workers have been on strike every Thursday for two months. This unprecedented situation in which the two main French contractors are facing strikes, is combined with different companies such as the Amazon site in Brétigny-sur-Orges or even RATP with 80% strikers in all bus depots in March 25. This sectoral struggle arises from following the specific NAO for each company. Employees are therefore mobilizing on the basis of a schedule specific to their company, creating a case of desynchronization of the struggle for wages despite sharing anger in many areas of work.
The wage problem looms nationally, with rising inflation expected to continue unabated in the coming months, causing wage losses for millions of workers. Consequently, a general increase in wages and indexation to inflation became a necessity. Only, to get it, you need a balance of power at the top, which directly raises the question of the unity of the current struggle with the obstacles of chaotic sectoral mobilization.
The last national inter-trade date of 17 March on wages was little followed in the continuity of the previous two and did not make it possible to overcome the fragmentation of the progressive struggle. The prospect of isolated days in the space of a few months shows its inability to mobilize widely even if anger over wages is very present. Faced with this, only a comprehensive plan has been initiated and prepared since the current mobilizations could offer a vision that would convince workers en masse to strike. To build a strike at the height, it is necessary to start from the existing struggles, to unite them and make them visible before the eyes of the people. On this basis, it is possible to prepare for a national strike through upstream strike funding and coordination between different sectors of work. This is a necessary condition for dialogue and the same rally involving millions of workers who want a wage increase, but who have not yet fought.