Goodyear management has been convicted by the Amiens court for the unfair dismissal of 832 of its former employees. The manufacturer’s factory in Amiens Nord, France, which specialised in the production of agricultural tyres, closed in January 2014. The closure brought to an end a six-year stalemate between staff and management, with the loss of 1,143 jobs. The Thursday May 28 judgement saw the court ask for the provisional execution of the sentence, as requested by the employee’s lawyer, Fiodor Rilov. The amount of damages to be paid is not yet available. Goodyear management has indicated that it has taken note of the ruling, adding that it reserves “the right to appeal.”
The appeals process for eight former Goodyear employees accused of taking two company managers hostage in France began last week, some nine months after a first instance court sentenced each to 24 months’ imprisonment for their involvement in the incident. While the original sentence requires the eight to serve nine months in prison and the following 15 months of the two-year sentence on probation, the public prosecution is being called upon to retain the sentence yet allow for the entire 24 months to be served as a suspended custodial sentence.
This week’s agreement between Goodyear Dunlop Tires France and the CGT union over the tyre maker’s Amiens Nord factory removes the major obstacle that blocked Titan International’s acquisition of the Amiens Nord agricultural tyre business. After hearing that the two parties have buried the hatchet, Titan CEO and chairman Maurice Taylor indicated he’s once again prepared to do business.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and Minister of Industrial Renewal Arnaud Montebourg have welcomed the end of the long-term standoff over Goodyear’s Amiens Nord factory. In a statement issued on 22 January, Montebourg expresses confidence that the signing of a deal between Goodyear management and representatives of the CGT (Confédération générale du travail or General Confederation of Labour) union will end the plant’s occupation and seven years of tension.
The lawsuit brought against Goodyear Tire & Rubber by the Works Council at the company’s Amiens Nord factory in France and the factory’s union representative, Michael Wamen, has been dismissed by the United States District Court in Ohio. Referring to a host of precedent cases, Judge Sara Lioi determined that Goodyear neither breached agreements made with the Amiens plant workers nor did it fraudulently represent reductions in plant output as temporary measures.
One hopes Maurice Taylor knows what he may be getting himself involved with. Goodyear’s Amiens Nord plant in France, scheduled to be closed and the subject of a potential acquisition by Titan International, is once again making the news – complete with photos of flaming tyres. Workers protesting the final meeting in the consultation process with employee representatives made their feeling known today when they blocked entry to the plant and set fire to piles of tyres.
Reuters is reporting union leaders at a closed Goodyear plant in northern France have agreed to talks with Morry Taylor, Titan International chairman and CEO. Taylor infamously said earlier in 2013 that the plant wasn’t worth saving, but reports suggest he is reconsidering his abandoned takeover bid for the plant. The French union wants give their demands directly to Taylor in his US office, Tire Review reports.
Maurice Taylor may take some of those ‘so-called workers’ after all. A text published by Agence France Presse yesterday says Titan International has made an offer regarding Goodyear’s Amiens Nord site.
France’s National Assembly has voted to create a commission of enquiry into the closure of Goodyear’s Amiens Nord factory. According to French daily Le Figaro, the lower house vote was supported by members from the socialist and green parties and the commission will examine the “economic and financial” causes of the proposed plant closure and its “economic, social and environmental consequences.” The thirty member commission has been given six months to produce its report.
With no buyers seeking to purchase it, the closure of Goodyear’s Amiens Nord tyre manufacturing facility now looks inevitable. And according to various French news reports, France's government has now faced up to the fact that this means the loss of up to 1,200 jobs.
Indeed closure is now the only option on the table after the French Agency for International Investment (AFII) contacted 57 potentially suitable of which just eight said they would be interested. Of these five signed confidentiality agreements and two non-binding offers were presented, but France's Economic Redevelopment Ministry said "after careful examination of the plans put forward," no candidates were in a position to present a binding offer.
When Maurice Taylor visited Goodyear’s plant in Amiens, France, he claims to have observed workers talking for several hours a day instead of getting busy with the tasks they were paid to do, and when he challenged them about this they replied it was “the French way.” Now the Amiens plant workers are engaging in a behaviour more in line with the American way – they have sued Goodyear Tire & Rubber.
The sword of Damocles has hung over Goodyear’s production site in Amiens, France for years now. Most recently, in 2009 the American tyre maker openly discussed plans to end the production of passenger car tyres in Amiens-Nord; the site suffered from “uncompetitive costs,” the company said. Two years ago Goodyear attempted to emulate the deal it made in Latin America and sell the Amiens plant’s agricultural tyre production to Titan International. But all plans for the Titan-Goodyear deal collapsed at the end of 2011. Titan chairman and CEO Maurice Taylor pulled the ripcord and withdrew from Europe, visibly frustrated by the union representatives in Amiens.