a “revolting” decision, says Le Maire

The decision of the Japanese tire group Bridgestone to close its Béthune (Pas-de-Calais) plant is “revolting”, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said Thursday, assuring that the government would “fight” for find a solution.

Bridgestone’s decision “is an appalling decision, with an appalling method and appalling consequences,” the minister lambasted on Cnews.

The Japanese group announced Wednesday the closure by 2021 of its Béthune plant employing 863 people in the manufacture of tires for cars. He justified his decision by “structural market problems”, production overcapacity in Europe and competition from low-cost Asian brands.

“We are going to fight,” assured Bruno Le Maire, initially in an attempt to “develop another activity with wider tires than those currently produced at the Béthune site”.

“And if ever we do not arrive at this solution, (to) find solutions for reindustrializing the site so that there is, for each Bridgestone worker, a solution which is a coherent and acceptable solution for them”, he added.

After the group’s announcement, the government and Xavier Bertrand jointly denounced “the brutality” of the announcement. In a joint statement, they had contested “the relevance and the foundations”.

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