The aeronautics industry hard hit by the economic crisis in Ariège

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Fifteen voluntary departures at Gardner, nine layoffs at Mécaprec … the prospects are hardly bright for aeronautics subcontractors hit by the decline in activity linked to the crisis. State of play … and safeguard plans in Ariège.

“I’m sincerely sorry guys! It is not out of gaiety of heart. The words of compassion that Jean-Marc Gomez addressed to the nine employees of Mecaprec summoned to a preliminary dismissal interview, Tuesday 17 and Wednesday 18 December, did not change the blow that fell on their heads. No reprieve for them, unlike the main players in the aeronautics industry in Ariège. “Today, we are at 30 or 35% load. This is not enough to hope for an exemption from the prefect. Even at 50% partial unemployment, we do not pass. “

3,000 jobs in Ariège. Ariège is made up of around forty companies which, wholly or in part, work in the field of aeronautics or space. That is 3,000 direct jobs (12,000 including indirect jobs). Direct jobs in Ariège account for 2% of the 146,000 jobs linked to this sector in the great South-West (Aquitaine and Occitanie).

In a sector heavily impacted by the turbulence that air transport has been going through for eight months, only three of the eight Ariège companies that have signed a long-term partial activity agreement have been able to commit to an average load plan of 60% of normal activity over the next six months. And five, therefore, had a derogation to resort to partial unemployment, up to 50% over two years.

This is the case of Gardner, which signed the first company agreement in Ariège in September, coupled with a collective performance agreement with, as a result, a cut in bonuses, an average loss of salary of 15% per month and 15 voluntary departures. “But according to our manager, we achieved a feat. We saved virtually 80 jobs, out of a little over 150 ”, underlines Nicolas Gangloff, FO delegate. A lesser evil as ATR has divided its production rates by six and Airbus has postponed certain orders from 2022 to… 2028.

Strong state support

However, Benjamin Tichané, DG France and Poland of Gardner, wants to believe in the future. “We had excellent support from the labor inspectorate. The prefect also made things much easier for us by granting us the 50% exemption. Locally, we had brilliant support. We are lucky to be in Ariège. This is also why the group that owns Gardner has decided to make an effort by maintaining the Mazères site and preserving employment. This was not the case in England and Poland where hundreds of jobs were cut. In France, we are in a country where we have been much better supported than anywhere else by the State. So Gardner made the effort too. “

Unfortunately for Mécaprec, the Lavelanet plant does not have the same capital behind it. Jean-Marc Gomez had to mortgage his house and sell his car in 2008 to buy Mécaprec, which at the time only had 12 employees. The double-digit growth that followed for ten years was not enough to deal with “the worst crisis ever in aeronautics in 30 years”. Between 2008 and 2019, the company had nevertheless gone from 12 to 76 people and the turnover from 800,000 € to 10.30 M €. “We even expected 11.3 million in June 2020. Instead, we made 8.5 million this year and our projection is estimated at just 5 million in June 2021”, sighs the business manager.

He was targeting 100 employees in 2021 and was forced to drop to 63

By increasing to 63 employees in December (there were 4 voluntary departures this summer), he too hopes to be able to sign a long-term partial activity agreement that would allow him to save at least these jobs between January 1, 2021. and December 31, 2023. “I’m using all my energy on this,” he said. Find activity to go up the slope. “

And yet! Without the health crisis due to the Covid-19 epidemic, he hoped to pass the 100 employees milestone by the end of 2021. But that was before Airbus passed the production of the A350 from 9.5 to 4 per month and that A320 assembly lines drop to 30 units per month compared to 60 in normal times. Before the virus arrived from China flies with its own wings across the country.

8 long-term partial activity agreements signed in Ariège

Gardner was the first company in the aerospace industry to sign an agreement for partial long-term activity from November 1, 2020 and for a period of two years. Seven other companies in the sector followed, including Aubert & Dubal and Recaéro. These eight agreements cover 1,564 employees, which represents as many jobs preserved for the duration of the eight agreements. The State covers 70% of the hours not worked in the protected sector that is aeronautics, against 60% in general. “Small businesses can also have access to the APLD. The agreements range from 6 months to 36 months maximum, for a partial unemployment rate which must be 40%, on average, over the duration of the agreement (50% on exceptional exemption granted by the prefect) but which may fluctuate according to the months; “It gives flexibility in the event of orders”, justifies the director of the departmental unit of the Direccte, knowing that the partial activity can be 24 months maximum over a period of 36 months.

A plan for the modernization and diversification of the aeronautics sector

The study of projects specific to the territory has barely begun. The general management of companies will decide on the selected files and the services of the Direccte will support these projects. This plan specific to the aeronautics sector is added to the recovery plan in favor of the industry which, for its part, is based on a budget of 35 billion euros at the national level. More info on or by phone on 05 61 02 46 40.

Aubert & Duval dreams of Safran

A subsidiary of the Eramet group, Aubert & Duval has been idling since last spring. The fall in aircraft manufacturing has had a heavy impact on order books and sales. In fact, Eramet wonders about the need to keep Aubert & Duval in its fold or not. A few weeks ago, the Safran group, which specializes in particular in the construction of reactors, clearly positioned itself to take over A&D activities.
Still, Safran is not alone in the ranks. Through a consortium of which it is part, Airbus, the aeronautical investment fund Ace Aéro Partenaires are also ready to join Safran.
For the two manufacturers, the challenge is not limited to retaining A&D know-how in the aeronautics sector. Over the course of their history, A&D sites have developed technological skills that the defense industry needs.
The CGT also wrote a few weeks ago to the CEOs of Safran and Airbus as well as to the Ministers of Economy and Defense to indicate that Safran was, according to the central union, the best solution.

Mécaprec: nine redundancies

The local union CGT Lavelanet and Pays d’Olmes mobilized its troops this Wednesday afternoon to support nine employees of the Mécaprec company in Lavelanet. The latter were, in fact, summoned for a preliminary dismissal interview.

The CGT denounces the nine layoffs planned by the Mécaprec company.

The CGT denounces the nine layoffs planned by the Mécaprec company.

While he does not dispute that companies working in the aeronautics sector are currently experiencing an area of ​​strong turbulence, Didier Mezin believes that things are being done in reverse. “The plant manager is now initiating this collective and economic dismissal procedure when he announced that he was going to set up, in early 2021, a long-term partial activity agreement (APLD)”, denounces the general secretary of the departmental union of the union, wondering: “Why wait when he can do this APLD today, which would avoid dismissals?” “.

An “incomprehensible” decision

At his side, the representative of the local union, Mikael Tolosa, considers this decision “incomprehensible”. “It comes at a time when Airbus plans to increase its production rates for the A320 neo from summer 2021 and asks its subcontractors to be ready,” he explains.

The unionist therefore fears that “when the orders come back”, the employees still present will suffer. “Among the nine people to be made redundant, there are seven millers, and two controllers. In other words, positions that require a certain know-how ”, indicates Mikael Tolosa. However, according to him, finding qualified personnel next summer will not be easy. “It is the remaining employees who will have to absorb the workload,” he analyzes.
In addition, he believes that to avoid layoffs, employees “could have been trained in other tasks in the company while waiting for the order book to fill again.” “It is true that there are devices for this, such as FNE-Training,” adds Didier Mézin.

But above all, Mikael Tolosa ensures that the nine employees soon to be dismissed (their employer has eight days to send them their letter) are victims of “a double penalty”. “Since March 16, there is already partial unemployment in the company. But in addition, they will lose their job. “
To try to make the director of Mécaprec reconsider his decision, the CGT requested the vice-president of the regional council, Kamel Chibli, and will ask for a meeting with the president of the community of communes of the country of Olmes, Marc Sanchez . The union will also distribute leaflets on the market.