After the shock, relief. In part, at least. Five months almost to the day – it was September 16, 2020 – after the shock of the announcement of the closure of the Bridgestone plant in Béthune (Hauts de France), the unions and management signed the plan on Friday February 12. safeguard of employment (PSE).
Unanimous agreement was indeed found on social measures to support the 863 employees of the only French factory of the Japanese tire giant, established for 60 years in this city of the former mining basin. “It’s not a joy because the factory is closing, because there is no buyer, but we have obtained levels of compensation like we have never seen”, welcomed the lawyer of the intersyndicale, Me Stéphane Ducrocq. Same discourse on the side of management, for whom this plan now appears “Among the most ambitious proposed in the profession in situations of this type”.
Early retirement, allowance, reclassification leave …
The arsenal of measures adopted includes a pre-retirement scheme, with support for a period of seven years and an allowance of 75% of gross salary, as well as reclassification leave of 21 to 24 months, depending on the situation of employees. An arsenal “Commensurate with the harm suffered”, analysis Me Stéphane Ducrocq.
The training budgets adopted may increase up to € 20,000 per employee, allowing “To hope that each employee who will need training will be able to do it”, adds Me Stéphane Ducrocq. The PSE includes other measures to aid internal and external reclassification, aid for geographic mobility and business creation.
After a final meeting of the Economic and Social Council (CSE) on February 26, the plan will be sent for approval to the Direccte (Regional Directorate for Business, Competition, Consumption, Labor and Employment). This end of February should therefore mark the epilogue of a new brutal episode for the Hauts-de-France region and its inhabitants.
Continental et Goodyear
In mid-September 2020, the shocking announcement of the closure of the Bridgestone site in Béthune knocked out the 863 employees and sparked a political upheaval, in a region already affected by the closure of two other tire manufacturing sites: Continental in Oise (683 employees in 2010) and Goodyear in Amiens-Nord (1,143 employees in 2014).
Projecting the “Total cessation of activity” on the horizon of “Second quarter 2021”, Bridgestone had invoked “Structural market problems”, production overcapacity in Europe and competition from low-cost Asian brands.
The government quickly stepped up to the plate, denouncing a “Betrayal of trust” and a decision “Substantively incomprehensible”, before accusing the Japanese group of having “Divested” of the Béthune plant “In favor of its other European sites, automatically leading to a lack of competitiveness”. The president of Hauts-de-France, Xavier Bertrand, had for his part denounced a “Premeditated murder”.
“Multi-activity industrial park”
Despite the government’s proposal for an alternative scenario, promising the safeguard of around 500 jobs, thanks to a restructuring and an investment of 100 million euros, the management of Bridgestone had showered all hope on November 12, by confirming its intention to leave the site.
On Tuesday 9 February, management announced that if the total takeover of the Béthune plant was ” unlikely “, several companies had expressed their interest in the creation of a “Multi-activity industrial park”, representative “A potential of 335 to 485 jobs”.
According to the leaders, “This solution, which would combine the installation of several projects in particular in the reconditioning of tires and in recycling, could represent a potential of 335 to 485 jobs”.