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After four months of strike, Dassault employees also benefit from the “Rafale effect”

in ‘s house Dassaultwe are used to emphasizing that aviation cyclical”, and that it is better to work with two (growth) engines: one civilian, the other military. “If one goes less well, the other takes over”, confirms Anthony Dupuy, union representative of the CGT at the Dassault site in Merignac

Something quite rare, the order books of the industry’s two flagships, the Falcon business jet and the fighter gust of wind, are both full at the moment. The Rafale, in particular, has enjoyed a string of commercial successes with more than 290 aircraft ordered overseas from eight countries in the past six years.

Among its recent commercial successes, Dassault sold six additional Rafales to Greece last March, after an initial deal for eighteen aircraft (twelve used and six new) signed in 2021. In February, the aircraft manufacturer signed a historic contract with Indonesia for 42 Rafales. France, for its part, ordered twelve additional devicesin particular to compensate the twelve taken from the contingent of the French army in favor of Greece.

“The employees felt hurt”

As the machine’s hunting list continued to fill, “and the workers never weakened, not even during the” pandemic where there has been no delay in delivery,” the unionist emphasizes, “the NAO [négociations annuelles obligatoires] led to a 0% increase in 2020 and 0.5% in 2021, setting the powder on fire. “The employees felt hurt. †

In December, an “unprecedented” social conflict broke out within the nine Dassault sites in France, over pay increases. Followed by 70% of workers, “only the associates who produce”, this move led last Friday to a “historic” agreement signed by the three unions CGT, CFDT and FO. In particular, it provides for a minimum increase of EUR 140 gross per month (EUR 107 net), indexed to seniority, over 13 months of the basic salary of non-executive staff, or EUR 1,820 per year.

Blocking devices when leaving the factory

“We still have a bit of bitter taste, because we asked for 200 euros gross revaluation, but it’s a real victory for the employees, we had never made so much progress on a single conflict,” Anthony Dupuy said. About 500 employees, of the 2,600 people at the Mérignac and Martignas sites, will benefit from these upgrades.

Between the delays to slow production and the blocking of devices leaving the factory, the Mérignac site was at the heart of the conflict. “Here we receive the sections of aircraft, arriving from Martignas, Argenteuil, Biarritz, to carry out the final assembly of the aircraft”, summarizes Anthony Dupuy. The factory is glued to the airport runways, the planes leaving the production lines immediately take off for a test flight, before being received by the customer, as is currently the case in Qatar and Greece with regard to the Rafale.

To a rate of two Rafales per month

The strike had reduced production rates to 1.5 Rafales per month, while the plant had increased to two per month since 2021 to meet a “full order book for the next 15 years. At the Mérignac site, a hundred extra people have to be hired to continue the advance. It is envisaged that all aircraft will be manufactured in France, “even if in certain contracts, particularly with India, certain parts of the aircraft will be outsourced,” specifies Anthony Dupuy. The Mérignac site also trains certain foreign pilots before taking control of the aircraft.

It will have to wait until 2015 for the fighter jet to experience its first export successes with Egypt (24 aircraft), Qatar (36) and the following year India (36). If the Rafale were to lose tenders in Switzerland and Finland, where the US F-35 was preferred over it, the aircraft manufacturer plans to see different prospects soon, particularly again with India.

Dassault currently produces: the F-4 version, the new standard of the Rafale, worth about 100 million euros. The 10-ton aircraft is the only one that can carry 1.5 times its weight in armament and fuel. Considered “discreet” with a low radar signature thanks to composite materials, it can fly at Mach 1.8 (2,200 km/h) and soar over 400 meters, with an altitude range of 1,850 km.

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