TourMaG.com – Amadeus announced last July the loss of 1,800 jobs around the world. Since then the plan has been presented in different countries. According to our information, nearly 320 jobs are threatened at the Sophia Antipolis site. Can you confirm this figure for me?
Pierre * CGT trade unionist: Yes. I confirm it to you.
The management obtained on the site the agreement of unions (CFDT and CFE-CGC) representing more than 50% of the votes, during the professional elections, to sign an agreement of collective contractual termination.
This targets 320 employees on permanent contracts, the management wants the departures to be recorded by the end of the year.
That’s not all, because we had the particularity of having in Sophia Antipolis, within our walls, a lot of IT subcontractors. The latter will not be spared, because more than 800 of them will not return. I’m talking about people on the site.
In total, we should see a drop of 20% of the workforce based near Nice, over the year 2020.
There were more than 5,000 of us, whether Amadeus employees or service providers, who had been on the site for more than 12 months.
This loss is colossal. In Paris, out of the 199 employees, an 18% reduction was announced to employees, ie 35 positions.
TourMaG.com – Are you worried that this plan will be reviewed in the coming months?
Pierre : We are not sure how things will turn out. Aviation sector activity is not picking up at expected levels.
The travel restrictions that are continuing or are being reintroduced are still having a very strong impact on the resumption of traffic.
It is not excluded, in my opinion, that the management is considering further budget cuts in the future.
At this stage, if nothing has been decided, we must realize that the decision that was unveiled today is based on an observation dating from June 2020.
However, at the end of this month, we were not on the same scenarios as those of August. We were on a faster recovery, which is not the case.
Regarding the CGT, we are concerned about the situation. All the more so as the management of the company refused to use the partial unemployment mechanism, allowing cash flow to be preserved.
CGT: “the voluntary nature of departures should be put in quotation marks …”
TourMaG.com – Moreover, the non-use of partial unemployment was also the case at the Paris headquarters, according to my information. How does management justify this?
Pierre : We did not have a clear explanation.
You should know that the management of Amadeus in Sophia Antipolis responded without any ambiguity “No“to the question of the CGT asking:”if the job cuts had an economic motive?“.
Amadeus is one of the most profitable companies in the world, with an EBITDA margin of 40%. A score higher than some GAFA.
It is a company that generates colossal cash, the problem being that our model is that of “cash-in cash-out”.
To sum up, as soon as money is collected, a part is redistributed to the shareholders. Since 2010 and our reintroduction on the stock market, we have paid more than 4 billion euros in dividends. And now the management explains to us that to face the situation, the employees have to foot the bill.
TourMaG.com – If it is not for economic reasons, why Amadeus is making such a cut in its ranks?
Pierre : First of all for them, these are not layoffs, but voluntary departures.
Except that in reality, departures are reserved for employees with more than 6 years of seniority. There are a series of mechanisms to encourage the departure of seniors and objectives are quantified by business family.
All these points make us say, at the CGT, that the voluntary nature of the departures is to be put in quotation marks. All this is combined with internal reorganizations, where it is decided quite clearly to reduce the wing on certain projects and activities.
To come back to your question, management explains to us that the Covid 19 crisis has reshuffled the air transport cards and the company must adapt to this new situation.
They consider that we must speed up the restructuring projects that were already in the pipeline.
“The departure plan should be signed in the next few days …”
TourMaG.com – So the epidemic only accelerated the implementation of already established plans?
Pierre : Sort of. They told us reorganizations were planned, but the coronavirus forced them to speed up their plans.
There may be an opportunity effect. On the other hand, we should not tell each other anything, Amadeus is still very strongly impacted by the crisis in the airline sector.
Our turnover has collapsed, but like everywhere and to the same extent as our competitors. We have raised significant funds, allowing us to hold out until the end of 2021.
On the other hand, nobody knows the duration of this crisis. Coming back to the original plan, this should be signed in the coming days and communicated thereafter.
TourMaG.com – Have you planned any union actions on your part?
Pierre : We face a problem that prevents us from mobilizing everyone. Most of the employees are still teleworking.
At the same time, management imposed a totally crazy negotiating pace in July and August, with three meetings per week.
This strategy prevents us from communicating with our colleagues, especially since they were partly on leave.
With the start of the school year, we thought that the majority of employees would come back to the site, but with the obligation to wear a mask, this could be a game-changer.
All this makes things complicated from a union point of view. However, a new staff assembly is scheduled for early September.
TourMaG.com – Are some services more affected than others by this reduction?
Pierre : Yes there are, but I cannot give you details.
What I can tell you, the most targeted services are those where the employees are the least qualified. Thus, the workstations are more easily relocated or automated.
Concerning Paris, the number of employees will be reduced by 18%. Employees continue to decrease, because in 2006, the head office experienced a PSE, then staff transfers. The bleeding continues.
“it would be better to save time with partial unemployment, but the management does not want”
TourMaG.com – When you talk about a reorganization towards new services to make Amadeus more efficient in terms of the future of the sector, what are these chosen services?
Pierre : It’s very simple, management looks at what is profitable or not.
TourMaG.com – If the airline continues to be in such a complicated situation, could Amadeus abandon the GDS activity?
Pierre : It’s not just the GDS activity in Amadeus, we also have new technologies, hotels, etc.
The weight of the GDS is still important, but it is no longer as predominant, especially with the profound changes of recent years (NDC, editor’s note).
Fortunately for us, Amadeus has adapted to this transformation by expanding its scope of activities, now the problem is the financialization of the company.
TourMaG.com – Do you fear a dismantling of Sophia Antipolis?
Pierre : This site is Amadeus’ flagship in the world, still with 4,000 employees.
We have extremely reputable engineers, with recognized levels of expertise. I find it hard to believe that the management can do without us.
I am well aware that we are not alone and that for a few years, they have developed the Bangalore site in India.
The latter is only growing in numbers. They have relocated activities there in the past, and it still continues and will continue in the future.
At this stage I don’t think it will go as far as liquidating the Nice site for the benefit of Bangalore, even if I don’t know what the future will bring.
TourMaG.com – Under these conditions, management is talking to you about the future? Of the recovery of September but also of the year 2020.
Pierre : No.
The only anticipations communicated to us are those of IATA. These findings are a bit biased, because the situation is somewhat dramatic in order to encourage States to come to the aid of companies.
No one knows what will happen in four years, whether IATA or anyone else. Instead of relying on this kind of study, it would be better to save time by setting up partial unemployment, but the management does not want to.
They just want to give guarantees to the market and to the shareholders, as to the company’s rate of return.
* The first name of the CGT representative has been changed
Posted by Romain Pommier
Journalist – TourMaG.com
See all articles by Romain Pommier