Air France-KLM preparing to cut at least 6,000 jobs

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Air France-KLM preparing to cut at least 6,000 jobs

By
Anthony Torres

June 20, 2020

The ruling classes of the world are grabbing onto the COVID-19 pandemic to restructure the capitalist economy, which is hitting hundreds of thousands of jobs, benefits and social conditions. After the French President, Emmanuel Macron, has announced a 15 billion euros of the rescue of the aerospace industry, Air France-KLM preparing to cut thousands of jobs after it received 7 billion euros in state funding.

Large European companies deemed strategic are in the process of restructuring based on the €1.35 billion in money printed by the European Central Bank (ECB) and the 500 billion euros of the French state to rescue to increase profits by reducing jobs. After tens of thousands of posts have been deleted in the automotive industry, including Renault and Nissan, it is the airlines turn. British Airways is cutting 12,000 jobs, and Ryanair is the preparation of 3 000 job losses. Lufthansa wants to reduce to 22 000 full-time and 4,000 part-time jobs. Airbus is to cut more than 10,000 jobs, or 10 percent of its workforce.

Wednesday morning, the group Air France-KLM to the board of directors has been convened by the president Anne-Marie Couderc and chief executive officer, Benjamin Smith. It announced a record loss of € 1.8 billion in the first quarter, while in this period, the air traffic has been seriously affected only in the month of March.

The daily Release reported that Air France-KLM“, that is, to pay not only for the magnificent fall of her income, as most of its aircraft are blocked on the field, but also for the low price of oil.” It has agreed to buy jet fuel in advance at a price that is now well above the market price, after the collapse of the oil markets due to the pandemic. Now, it is sitting unused, leaving a € 500 million hole in the company’s bottom line.

The very gradual re-growth of in air traffic did not allow to Air France-KLM: flights to America, Asia and Africa are the most profitable, but they are generating no revenue because the European Union (EU) Schengen zone, the borders are closed. The company anticipates massive losses in the coming quarters.

He announced cuts in investment from €3.6 billion to € 2.4 billion, including the cancellation of the purchase of three long-haul Airbus jets this year. But the cost-reduction measures impact on employment the more wildly. According to Releaseduring the meeting of the board of directors of the company, “the two representatives of the French state has not made the slightest comment,” when the plans of the job cuts have been announced.

Smith has not announced specific figures, but he would have plans to reduce jobs in the administrative services and Air France regional flights. Its regional subsidiary Hop is to see the number and the volume of flights cut by half. According to a member of the executive, who spoke anonymously, of 6 000 to 10 000 jobs will be cut from 80 000 in total.

Aerospace workers, such as the automobile, are not responsible for losses in these industries, nor for the pandemic. The hundreds of billions of euros paid out more for the banks and big companies need to go to save jobs and boost wages and social benefits, through the nationalization of the enterprises under workers ‘ control in the European and international level. This requires a political struggle of the working class, aimed at taking the power, the expropriation of the financial aristocracy and build the Socialist united States of Europe.

To combat the attacks of the planning stage, workers need to build their own action committees, independent of the unions and their political allies to organize a political struggle against Macron and the EU.

The workers of Air France-KLM must be notified that the state, Air France and the union bureaucracies are in the process of negotiating attacks behind their backs. All agreed on the plan to reduce jobs. The unions have not tried to mobilize workers to strike against the job cuts, because they are already negotiating directly with Benjamin Smith and the rest of the management. Air France-KLM workers had already a long experience of the treachery of Air France and the unions.

Already in 2014, Air France workers are facing a number of restructuring plans by slashing thousands of jobs and the reduction of wages, with the complicity of the National Union of airline Pilots (SNPL) and the Stalinist General Confederation of Labour (CGT) unions. This year, Air France, the pilots struck for 14 days, against, the project to develop a low-cost subsidiary, Transavia. The strike not only cost the company hundreds of millions of euros, but shifted to the unpopular government of French President François Hollande.

As Holland is social-democrat government, the unions feared that the strike, which has benefited from broad popular support, which could encourage the wider strike action in the working class.

Manuel Valls, the social democratic prime minister, intervened to demand the end of the strike, the SNPL fast n’, claiming that “it is our duty to preserve the future of the company and to bind up his wounds before irreparable damage is done.”

In 2018, as the French rail workers struck against Macron rail of the plan of privatisation of Air France workers also took strike action alongside students protesting against the university reform plans. Air France unions ended the strike, however, after Smith has been appointed chief executive officer, to prevent a wider political movement against Macron, which would have escaped the unions control. This has enabled the trade unions to isolate striking rail workers from other layers of workers, ensuring the passage of the rail privatisation and the preparation of the Macron to reduce pensions.

Now, in the midst of the pandemic, the trade unions are preparing another attack on the members they claim to represent. They will try to play different categories of workers against each other to divide Air France-KLM workers, as a driver with a long union case says Release: “Benjamin Smith has continually said to us in French and in English that we are the leaders of the company. The drivers are won over by his rhetoric, the more he knows of the air transport much better than its predecessors at the head of the company.”

In spite of this, that this union official claims, the drivers will also be affected by the redundancies, and the desire to oppose the company’s cost reduction plans. The defence of their jobs and working conditions requires to unify their struggles with those of the other layers of workers in the company. In effect, this statement means in the last analysis, the SNPL will not try to engage the drivers, in order to divide and weaken the Air France-KLM group workers ‘ struggle.

Since the month of 2018 has seen many social struggles organized independently of the unions, like those of the “yellow vests” in France or Portuguese nurses. Now, it is essential to organize a struggle independently of the unions, the action committees to defend jobs and wages to the international level—including, therefore, workers of Air France and the Dutch company KLM—threatened by the attacks caused by the pandemic.

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