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Workers must come first in proposed EADS and BAE merger

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19 September, 2012The recent announcement of a proposed merger between EADS and BAE Systems has been met with concern and questions from unions representing workers in both companies.

IndustriALL Global Union is calling for an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the merger for workers in both companies.

The proposed merger is suggested as good for business but this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good for the workforce and the countries where they operate. Eliminating the fear of workers will assist in a faster integration of the two companies should the merger proceed.

The new company would have a workforce of over 200,000 and annual sales of over 57 billion GBP. Although both companies have a presence in similar markets there are also areas that are unique to each such as EADS Space Division.

As both companies have a considerable defense portfolio a lot of attention has been focused on the implications and issues of national interest. Although this attention is warranted what’s likely to have an equally important impact is the companies’ industrial strategy post merger.

In order for unions to support the merger management must first eliminate fear among workers and develop a transparent and inclusive process. Unions in both companies have been developing strategies in response to the announcement and IndustriALL has a central role in coordinating these efforts globally.

Rob Johnston, Executive Director of IndustriALL Global Union and responsible for Aerospace argues, “A merger of this nature needs careful consideration. Both companies provide thousands of highly skilled jobs we can’t afford to gamble with these. We need to ensure the checks and balances are in place to protect employment and that a well thought out business plan exists should the merger take place.”

Critical to unions is transparency throughout the merger process and the ability to influence the company’s future plans. Since the announcement of the merger most commentary has focused on the economic case. Little attention has focused on the industrial strategy and the management’s business plan in particular the case for jobs.

Unions in both EADS and BAE Systems have been loudest in raising this question. To date an answer has not been provided and that’s why unions are seeking a greater involvement in the merger process. IndustriALL will coordinate these efforts at the global level engaging unions across the world and developing a common platform among unions.

Making the case for jobs and employment is a vitally important element to the success or failure of the proposed merger. Developing new tools that will up-skill an already highly skilled workforce should form an integral part of any new business model. The result of the merger must not be a weaker but larger company, but a company focused on developing and retaining a highly skilled workforce to secure its success.