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article imageFrance: Goodyear's CGT leader forces plant closure

By Larry Clifton     Mar 5, 2013 in Business
Amiens - In France, two unionized tire companies located on the same street near Amiens, France chose very different directions begetting polar opposite results.
Union workers at the Goodyear factory followed the typical path of big unions and rejected all labor offers made by Goodyear-Dunlop executives. However the hard-nose union approach to negotiations between union representatives and the company went nowhere and only resulted in the plant's closing.
Goodyear, like struggling carmakers Peugeot (PEUP.PA) and Renault (RENA.PA) had pressed union workers to accept more stringent work conditions along with salary increases to shore up profitability and keep the plant open. Unsuccessful labor negotiations had stretched out over five years before the company decided to close the plant.
Goodyear's CGT leader Mickael Wamen would have no part of company proposals and rejected all key offers despite pay increases being included in labor concessions.
Today, the Goodyear plant that Wamen represents is set to close its doors permanently while a Dunlop plant on the same street has prospered by more than 50 million euros ($65 million) in investment after accepting similar labor conditions as those rejected by Wamen.
"The bottom line is that our jobs are staying, and across the street there are 1,173 guys who are going to be on benefits," said a Dunlop union leader who asked to remain anonymous to avoid adding to what he called "severe" tensions with Goodyear workers. "Draw your own conclusions."
At one point U.S. CEO Maurice Taylor, nicknamed “The Grizz” for his bearish demeanor, had considered purchasing the plant before dropping the idea and complaining that the workforce “spent as much time talking as working.”
It took nearly a year for Wamen's CGT to reject Taylor’s proposal, and by then there weren't any buyers interested in placing a bid on the plant. Late in February, Taylor made his feelings known. He told France’s Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg, who had defended the CGT, that he could keep his "so-called workers."
"Your government let the crazy Communist union destroy the best paid jobs," Taylor told Europe 1 radio after his letter to Montebourg was leaked to French media.
When Taylor visited the plant, production was already slumped to 2,700 tires per day from more than 20,000 in October of last year largely due to a lack of sales. Idle workers were milling around the factory to avoid being docked pay for not showing up even though there was no work when Taylor visited the factory.
Soon, those same idle workers will find padlocks on their factory’s doors and the sweet stench of rubber wafting through the night air will be coming from the Dunlap factory across the street. The Goodyear-Dunlop plant closing amounts to a 39% reduction of its workforce in France.
Goodyear Dunlop in Europe, Middle East and Africa belongs to the larger Goodyear Group (GT.O) based in Akron, Ohio.
More about Goodyear's CGT leader Mickael Wamen, France unions, france dunlop tires, france goodyear tires, Goodyear
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