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Tyre workers sent home as Covid-19 closes factories

Japanese tyre giant Bridgestone is sending home all employees of its 15 plants in North and South America, phasing out production from 21 March until or before 12 April. This company will use existing stocks to fill orders.

As the company carefully monitors the coronavirus situation, it is continuing to take action in all aspects of operations to ensure the health and safety of our employees while also addressing the needs of customers and the market,” Bridgestone said in a statement.

“They’re really looking out for their employees. We hope other facilities follow their lead and do what’s right to contain this virus,”

says Steve Vonk, president of USW Local 310, which represents workers at the plant.

IndustriALL’s annual health and safety event on Bridgestone has been cancelled for this year due to the pandemic.

French tyre manufacturer Michelin has also announced plans to idle its factories in Europe for at least one week. In an announcement on 18 March, the company said it is an effort to “safeguard the health of its employees, in close cooperation with local authorities in every host country.”

One of the 25 European factories to temporarily close is the plant in Dundee, Scotland, which will be closed from 27 March until 13 April. After talks with management, Unite the Union agreed to the closure, during which workers will continue to be paid.

The first meeting of the newly established global works council has been cancelled.

US based tyre maker Goodyear is suspending its eleven European manufacturing operations and all its 17 production sites in North and South America until at least 3 April. This affects nearly 12,000 workers in Europe and 17,000 workers in the Americas.

Goodyear says the measures have been taken in full agreement with the social partners, planning for an effective restart of production when the health crisis passes and the demand returns. The company is also following strong social-distancing measures in the warehouses that will remain open to maintain service to customers.

German Continental announced this week that it would stop production at its factories, with details to follow.

Pirelli, headquartered in Italy, has been especially hard hit, with an early case of an employee with Covid-19 at its plant in northern Italy.

IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan says:

“Workers’ must have income security during this health crisis. Employers have a responsibility to ensure that health is protected and that plans are respected without exception; that workers are fully paid as agreed through collective bargaining; and that any worker exposed to COVID-19 has guaranteed sick leave for as long as it takes to be fit to return to work.”

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