French union urges Airbus to reopen salary pact due to inflation
One of France’s largest unions, Force Ouvriere, has called on planemaker Airbus to renegotiate part of an existing salary accord to take account of high inflation, in the latest sign of growing wage pressures in European industry.
The French union said in a letter to Airbus that the current salary accord, which runs from July 2022 to July 2024, allows for discussions to be reopened for the second half of that period once more is known about the economy.
“In the face of the latest inflation figures, which show a sharp disconnect, we are requesting that you reopen wage negotiations for 2023-2024 as soon as possible,” the union wrote in a letter to Airbus dated February 22.
French consumer prices rose 6.2% in February compared to the same month last year, according to the INSEE statistics agency.
The union released the letter late on Monday, along with a copy of Airbus’s reply hinting at some room for adaptive measures in talks to be held with unions on March 16.
“This will be the opportunity to discuss the possibility of carrying out complementary measures to respond to the problems of purchasing power experienced by our employees,” the head of human resources in the aerospace group’s French business wrote.
The Airbus letter said the March 16 gathering would take overall stock of the economic situation, including abroad, but stopped short of promising a formal salary negotiation.
The two-year salary pact between Airbus and several unions including Force Ouvriere provides for a total wage hike of 6.8% split between 3.9% in the first year and 2.9% in the second.
An Airbus spokesperson said the company had activated the mid-term review clause in line with the agreed schedule.
The government of French President Emmanuel Macron has urged companies to use the various bonus and incentive programmes that they have created to boost purchasing power.
Central bankers say they are closely watching watching wage pressures, but do not so far see a wage-price spiral emerging.
The re-negotiation demand emerged as French unions stepped up a separate fight against Macron’s pension reform plans in a sixth day of nationwide strikes on Tuesday. The Airbus spokesperson said operations were not immediately affected.