Pirelli ‘maintaining’ UK tyre manufacturing after Burton MIRS line closure reports
Pirelli has reaffirmed its commitment to “maintaining industrial operations” at both its Carlisle and Burton-on-Trent UK factories after unions suggested the company was about to close its MIRS robotic production line in Burton. According to Unite, which represents all 280 members of the Burton tyre factory workforce, Pirelli has proposed cutting 80 jobs. In a statement published on 11 February 2021, Unite criticised Pirelli for “not taking up the furlough scheme for these workers, instead of pushing ahead with the redundancies.”
However, Pirelli reports that it invested 70 million euros in UK manufacturing between 2018 to 2020 and is proceeding with planned investments of around 20 million euros in 2021. Nevertheless, considering the challenging economic outlook, compounded by the Covid-19 emergency, Pirelli will reorganise one department at Burton-on-Trent. Tyres & Accessories has requested confirmation that this is indeed the MIRS robotic production line that focuses on top-end, short-run and bespoke tyre production.
Pirelli’s rationale for the reorganisation is based on the Covid-19 related downturn in vehicle demand. “Last year the critical economic and healthcare situation led to a decline of 29.4 per cent of new car registrations in the UK…and a fall in car usage, which at the end of January was down -48.3 per cent compared with a year earlier…The company will now initiate a period of consultation with the Unions to ensure that all necessary support is provided to affected workers. For Pirelli, the UK operation remains a valuable part of the Group’s global industrial footprint and central to the service of local customers”, Pirelli representatives wrote in a statement dated 9 February 2021.
The Burton factory, which is situated alongside Pirelli’s UK head office, has been producing tyres for over 90 years, whilst Pirelli’s Carlisle factory has been in operation for over 50 years. According to a company statement released a year ago, both facilities utilise the latest technology, using a mixture of automated robots, also known as MIRS (Modular Integrated Robotised System), as well as many highly-skilled people. At the same time, Pirelli claimed that it is “the only premium tyre manufacturer to produce SUV tyres on UK soil.”