WITH NO END in sight to the strike at Boeing, managers are being drafted in to help complete work on aircraft due for delivery before the industrial action began on 5 October.

Some 34,000 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) began the strike after a majority voted to reject Boeing's latest offer. The two sides appear to have reached a stalemate over several issues relating to job security, wages and health cover.

The outcome is closely being watched as a test case by US and overseas aerospace companies.

The IAM, which last went on strike at Boeing in 1989 in an action lasting 48 days, re-established formal contact with the company on 11 October.

"No talks are scheduled at the moment, although we are willing to sit down and talk," says Boeing. "We have on the table what we think is a very fair and realistic offer," the company adds.

The IAM is particularly concerned about job security and claims that Boeing's attitude is inflexible. Boeing counters by saying that "...selling aircraft is the only sort of job security there is".

The union also raises concerns over the increasing non-US content of the newest airliners, and the threat that this poses to local jobs. Foreign content on the 777-200 stands at 20% of the aircraft's value, including Japanese risk-sharing participation, compared with 8% on the 747-400. The 737 and 757 each have a 13% foreign content.

Boeing argues that the rising foreign participation helps secure exports in a cut-throat market.

The company is in the middle of a drive to cut manufacturing costs by $600 million. It is almost at the end of the current delivery cycle, with only 210 aircraft expected to be shipped in 1996, compared with the record peak of 440 in 1992.

Boeing has not commented on how much the industrial action is costing, but it is thought that it could survive a strike until around mid-November.


Source: Flight International