French workers protest Goodyear plant closure

22nd March 2013, Comments 0 comments

Hundreds of workers protested in front of the French headquarters of tyre-maker Goodyear on Friday, two weeks after a similar demonstration ended with scuffles with police.

The gathering of about 300 workers took place as management and worker representatives began talks on the fate of a tyre plant in northern France, which Goodyear intends to close.

The high stakes meeting, where 1,173 jobs are on the line, is intended to formally begin closing the factory, but unions hope to limit layoffs for now to a voluntary departure plan so that other alternatives can be found.

In February, a US chief executive spectacularly refused a French government invitation to take over the plant, mocking French workers for working only three hours day.

The insult drew a furious reaction from unions and made headlines at a delicate time for the French government, which hopes to fight rising unemployment and a moribund economy through foreign investment.

The proposal being introduced Friday is the latest in a long line of offers by Goodyear since 2007, all refused by the plant's majority labour union, the CGT.

The CGT's refusal to accept any job cuts has created acute tensions with other unions who were open to earlier and less drastic offers.

The Amiens plant currently manufactures tourism and farming tyres, though the latter are understood to be the only economically viable operation.

© 2013 AFP

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