Goodyear kidnappings a serious crime, says Titan’s Taylor

Titan International boss Maurice Taylor has condemned the forced confinement of two managers at Goodyear’s Amiens Nord plant in France. The chairman and CEO, who made headlines in early 2013 after his not very high opinion of workers at the Goodyear plant went public, appeared to have a change of heart later in the year when he reportedly made an offer to acquire the scheduled to close factory. Now such a deal appears a lot less likely.

Speaking with French radio network Europe 1, Taylor made it clear that at home in the US the Goodyear workers’ action would be labeled a kidnapping and prosecuted as such. “This is a very serious crime, you’d be in danger of life imprisonment. But in France your government does nothing – it seems crazy,” he stated.

Workers at the Amiens Nord factory have held two managers against their will since Monday. The pair, production manager Michel Dheilly and human resources director Bernard Glaser, were ‘boss-napped’ by around 200 workers in an action prompted by the CGT union. According to CGT works council representative Franck Jurek, the two managers are being held in a meeting room whose door is blocked by a large agricultural tyre, and although the men are receiving water and still have their mobile phones with them the workers say they will remain there until the situation is satisfactorily resolved. Jurek told French media that “they will not come out (of the room) even if it takes three or four days. We will find mattresses and sleep there.” The CGT’s head representative at the Amiens Nord plant, Mickael Wamen, added that the men will be held until workers receive a guarantee regarding the start of negotiations on bonuses and severance packages for all workers.

Representatives from the CGT wanted to meet with senior Goodyear management and a French government representative this morning, however Goodyear refused to negotiate with the union under these conditions. “The management of Goodyear Dunlop Tires France won’t participate in any meeting with employees’ representatives as long as two of its managers are being held,” the company wrote in a statement.

The Amiens Nord site has been a source of ongoing tension between Goodyear and the CGT. The tyre maker first announced the closure of its consumer tyre plant there in 2009 and indicated its intention to divest the agricultural tyre production facility. A prospective buyer for the agricultural business was found in Titan International the following year, however union efforts to delay the consumer tyre plant’s closure led to Taylor walking away from the deal in late 2011, a move that set him on course for his infamous verbal exchange of opinions with French minister of industrial renewal Arnaud Montebourg.

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