SARREGUEMINES, France (May 8, 2009)—Workers at Continental A.G.'s tire plant in Sarreguemines have ended a brief occupation of the plant and returned to work after getting assurances from Conti management it would meet with labor representatives to hear their grievances.
The occupation, which ended May 6, was the latest in a series of protests by workers at Conti's tire plants in Sarreguemines and Clairoix, France, the latter of which is slated to close by year-end. Conti also is entertaining an offer from a Dubai-based real estate firm for the Clairoix plant.
Workers at the Sarreguemines factory ended their action after Nikolai Setzer, the head of Conti's Passenger and Light Truck Tires Division, promised representatives of the Clairoix work force a personal meeting May 12. Normal tire production in Sarreguemines was resumed with the May 6-7 night shift, Conti said.
While agreeing to meet with the workers' representatives, Conti voiced its disapproval of the use of force, saying violence does not provide answers or solutions for the employees. That can be arrived at only in meetings with the joint works council and the individual work councils at the various locations, Conti said.
“àGerman management can only conduct talks on this project and the underlying reasons for it,” Setzer said. “It is up to the French management to conduct negotiations, as this lies within their scope of competence and authority. This is also in compliance with the law.”
Conti also reiterated its plan to close Clairoix—and to cut production at a plant in Hanover, Germany—is in response to the “drastic drop in demand” in Europe.
The overproduction of tires in Europe amounted to 7.5 million units in 2008 and stands at more than 15 million in 2009, Conti said.