By Patrick Raleigh ERJ On-line news editor
Brussels- Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. (BFS) has settled an 11-month labour dispute at its Buenos Aires tyre plant, ICEM (the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions) has announced.
The settlement follows an eight-day blockade in late June and early July on suppliers delivering materials to the plant, followed by a strike there last week, said a 15 Sept statement from the union group.
The dispute began in October 2003 when BFS management barred representatives of the union SUTNA (Sindicato Unico de Trabajadores del Neumatico Argentina) from the plant. The company subsequently tabled plans to invest $50 million in the 700-employee unit and scaled back operations to six days a week from seven, causing around 60 layoffs.
Under the settlement, BFS will recall 12 of the sacked employees and offer full backpay to last October and fixed payments for a further 20 months to those laid off. The firm has also agreed to employ these workers on a sub-contract basis as the need arises and to start talks towards a new collective bargaining deal.
BFS had ruled out collective agreement talks with unions since a prior contract expired in 2001, in breach of Argentina's labour rules, claims ICEM. Management, had rebuffed several directives from Argentina's labour minister to enter talks with unions to resolve the dispute.