Thousands of Airbus Deutschland employees have protested against possible job cuts after a shop-floor workers organisation at the company’s Hamburg facility claimed there are plans to cut up to 8,000 jobs in Germany as part of the company's Power8 restructuring programme.

German union IG Metall led demonstrations at Airbus’s sites across Germany today. The Airbus works council (Betriebsrat) says it has obtained advance details of the plan, designed to cut costs and boost efficiency in an attempt to offset the effects of delays to the A380 programme, which Airbus chief executive Louis Gallois will present on 20 February to the European Committee Airbus (ECA) -made up of employee representatives from all Airbus entities.

Horst Niehus, chairman of the works council at Airbus Hamburg, says: “should all scenarios be realised, it is to be expected that 5,000 to 8,000 jobs will be lost at Airbus Deutschland, of which 2,500-4,000 will come from Hamburg.” He adds: “Even the migration of the A380 final assembly line from Hamburg to Toulouse is apparently still on the agenda.”

Airbus is not commenting on the plans, but says: “We understand the Airbus employees are very disturbed by the situation. It is definitely necessary to implement Power8.” The company adds: “No one likes the implementation of changes but we have always been through changes in aviation and become stronger after restructuring. We ask the employees to trust the management that everything will be done in dialogue throughout the Airbus countries.”

The works council says it is most concerned about the impact on the Hamburg site of migration of the A380 final assembly line and A320 interior furnishing, as well as the possibility that on the A350 XWB the fuselage assembly and equipment installation will take place elsewhere, and the potential loss of fuselage and cabin integration capability.

Migration of wing equipping, outsourcing of flap assembly, redistribution of shell manufacture work shares, outsourcing of component manufacture are the key issues that could affect other sites in Germany, the works council says. It is also worried that individual sites could be sold off.

Through Airbus as a whole, the works council fears that jig and tool production could be outsourced, and shared service functions concentrated together under the EADS banner, leading to “massive job cuts” in overhead functions and “massive increase in the subcontracting of production and development tasks.”

Flight's business reporter Helen Massy-Beresford was on the ground in Hamburg last week to sense to mood of employees as Airbus pushes forward with Power8