Earlier this week, Titan International made an offer of partial reestablishment of the Goodyear site in Amiens Nord. The plan would revive agricultural tire production, bringing 333 employees back to work for the next year.
Belonging to Goodyear France, a subsidiary of U.S. firm Goodyear, this site was condemned to close in January following five years of fruitless negotiations to save it. The company looks to close the plant because the road tires business was proving unprofitable. The agricultural tires division, however, may be worth saving.
Approximately 1200 are employed at the site, of which 700 work in the agricultural tires division. Titan, an American tire company, is prepared to invest tens of millions of dollars in Goodyear France. Of this, 40 million would be allocated to operation of the site in Amiens Nord, allowing nearly half of the employees to go back to work.
Arnaud Montebourg, Minister for Industrial Renewal, is acting as intermediary for the deal.
Prior to talks with the French government on Wednesday, Titan refused to confirm or deny whether it had made an offer, despite Montebourg’s confirmation of the potential deal. Goodyear initially indicated that it had not received any new offer because the offer was received by the government, not the company.
The plan is awaiting approval from the Confédération générale du travail, or the General Confederation of Labor (CGT). CGT member Frank Jurek noted that the proposed number of employees who will be reinstated is much lower than the first proposal from earlier this year. This, he says, will not work.
Despite this, the CGT made it clear on Friday that it was ready to do anything to make this deal happen. Pierre Moscovici, Minister of Finance, reckoned that the French employees and union workers should accept Titan’s “extended hand.”
Montebourg, looking to save as many jobs as possible, says the deal is “solid,” or at the very least better than nothing. It is up to the employees to say what they want, he added.
Maurice Taylor, the CEO of Titan and known as “the Grizz” for his gruff manner, is refusing to discuss the deal with the CGT, since they are not his employees. “There have still got to be some leaders at the CGT who have a brain,” said Taylor, according to Reuters
Taylor did promise Friday to keep his word on the condition that the union workers and the company agree on a social plan, assuring that when he shakes on a deal, he will keep his word.
This is not the first time the American company declared itself ready to re-establish activities of Goodyear in Amiens North. It threw in the towel a year ago after executive Maurice Taylor mocked the French government’s and employees’ attitudes, complaining the plant was not worth saving and the workforce was lazy.