The union representing employees at a closure-threatened Continental factory has responded angrily to the decision, accusing Continental of “sacrificing” a “profitable tyre plant” as part of its savings programme. The IG BCE union particularly doesn’t understand the logic behind this step as it claims the tyre business in Aachen has achieved “double-digit” profit margins over the years and even operated in the black during the corona lockdown.
According to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), UK car manufacturing output fell 20.8 per cent in July, with just 85,696 units rolling off production lines during the month. Despite the continued ramp-up of production and reopening of almost all factories following the easing of lockdown measures, social distancing measures and ongoing economic uncertainty still stifled output. Today’s figures follow news that BMW intends to lay off 400 of the 950 agency personnel working at its Mini factory in Oxford.
Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) has announced that it is to axe 160 jobs at its Scottish facilities at Falkirk and Larbert. The news comes just one month after the company said that up to 650 jobs were at risk at its sites in the UK.
Bridgestone Southern Africa (BSAF) has announced that it will close its bias tyre manufacturing plant in Port Elizabeth, a decision affecting 252 employees. The move is in line with the company’s plans to focus on premium profitable growth segments. The Port Elizabeth plant is geared towards the production of older bias tyres, which are globally in decline and being phased out in South Africa, due to their unprofitability. BSAF is also feeling the effects of a shrinking economy and an influx of cheap imports, leading to its operational restructuring plan. It added that the conversion of the plant to produce radial tyres would require a multi-billion-rand investment, which it deemed unfeasible in the current economy.
Workers at Michelin’s Dundee plant are leaving for the final time today as the manufacturer ends its half-century of operations in the city. The final Dundee-made Michelin tyre was produced on 23 March, as the Coronavirus pandemic interrupted the planned closure of the site. The Unite union agreed to the early end to production, with Michelin honouring all wage commitments until the final closure date, 30 June. The 2018 decision to close the factory was informed by the rapid increase in consumers’ preference for lower-cost alternatives within the smaller size range the factory was equipped to produce. Michelin supported efforts to find employment for staff at the factory, including the relaunch of Michelin Development, which aimed to create hundreds of jobs in Dundee and Angus.
Sumitomo Rubber Industries, the manufacturer of the global Falken tyre brand has temporarily shut down its factory in South Africa on government orders. All of its other tyre manufacturing facilities are currently operational, though staff at the Falken Tyre Europe headquarters in Germany are working remotely where possible, or following social distancing guidelines.
Bridgestone EMIA will either temporarily close or reduce production plants across its European manufacturing network in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Its Béthune plant in France and the Bari plant in Italy will be closed until 6 April.
Apollo Vredestein is scaling back production at its European plants in Hungary and the Netherlands in addition to “taking measures to protect our workforce in line with government health advisory and measures” against coronavirus/Covid-19.
Michelin has confirmed that it has decided to close its tyre production facilities “located in the European countries most affected” countries for at least one week. Tyres & Accessories understands this means Michelin’s factories in Italy (Cuneo and Alessandria), Spain (Lasarte, Vitoria, Aranda de Duero and Valladolid) and France (Cataroux, Les Gravanches, Le Puy-en-Velay, Roanne, Bourges, Montceau, Cholet, La Roche-sur-Yon, Golbey, Avallon, Montagny, Vannes, Joué-Lès-Tours and Troyes
The Nexion Group has suspended all activities at its Italian factories and offices until Sunday 29 March. The company had managed the situation by minimising risk to its employees while continuing some business functions until now but has taken the decision to enact the closure based on current circumstances. The company, best known for the Corghi brand of garage machinery distributed by Rema Tip Top UK, states that it will use the closure as an opportunity to “check, improve and guarantee” health and safety measures currently in place at its plants.
Production at Rolls-Royce Motor Car’s Goodwood-based manufacturing plant will be suspended from Monday 23 March for two weeks. According to the company, this suspension will be followed by a pre-planned two-week Easter maintenance shutdown “in order to further secure the health and welfare of the employees of the company”.
Goodyear Europe, Middle East and Africa will suspend tyre production at all its European tyre and retread plants by the end of the week, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The manufacturer states that the temporary closure, which will last until at least 3 April, is “to protect its employees and respond to the sudden decline in market demand.” The closure affects the company’s plants in France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Slovenia. It also includes the Dębica plant in Poland.