26 March, 2020The continued slowdown of tyre production due to COVID-19 is affecting IndustriALL Global Union members. Measures are taken to protect staff and to respond to a severe drop in demand. All companies suspending production report that they will continue to be able to fill customers’ needs from existing stock.
Sector leader Bridgestone of Japan employs over 8,000 workers in Europe. The company has stopped production at its tyre plants Bethune, France, and Bari, Italy, and is reducing work at sites in Belgium, Hungary, Poland and Spain. Bridgestone factories in Bilbao, Puente San Miguel and Burgos, in Spain; Stargard and Poznan, in Poland; and Tatabanya in Hungary, will operate with reduced capacity. A retread materials factory in Lanklaar, Belgium, also will reduce operations.
French multinational Michelin has started to idle tyre plants in the US and Canada, with manufacturing so far suspended for two weeks. Michelin had already announced the idling of its European sites.
Goodyear has already announced suspension of all manufacturing sites, affecting nearly 30,000 workers in the Americas and Europe.
Continental of Germany is reducing some production, but without making the clear site suspensions like other market leaders. In North America, Continental operates three tyre factories, plus one in Mexico, employing a total of around 6,500 workers in the two countries.
This week, Italian based Pirelli sent home nearly 7,000 workers from its sites in Settimo Torinese and Bollate, Italy; Slatina, Romania; and Burton on Trent and Carlisle, UK. The return to work dates will depend on the evolution of the virus. The Pirelli plants in Germany, Russia and South America have not yet been closed.
In North America, along with Continental, Titan, Nokian and Trelleborg have so far not reduced production, but do report new protocols being implemented to protect employees from the virus. Hankook Tyre announced that it will suspend production for two weeks at its plant in Tennessee, where 1,200 workers operate.
Finish tire maker Nokian is ceasing production at its plant in Dayton, US, in order to safeguard the well-being of its employees.
Indian based Apollo Tyres is scaling back production at its Enschede plant in the Netherlands, stopping car tyre production and focusing on agriculture tyres. Apollo is suspending all production at Hungarian plant, Gyongyoshalasz for two weeks from 28 March.
Cooper Tyre is beginning the process to temporarily close its two manufacturing facilities in Europe, located in Melksham, England, and Krusevac, Serbia. This affects 1,350 workers. The closure is expected to last three weeks. Similar measures are being taken at Cooper’s tyre plants in the US and Mexico. The company’s plant in China has reopened and been operational again for several weeks.
“In the midst of this crisis, IndustriALL’s position is clear: all affected rubber workers must have their health, pay and conditions protected throughout this crisis,”
says IndustriALL rubber director Tom Grinter.