Melksham, UK — Trade union Unite has blamed ‘cheap Chinese tire imports’ for Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.’s decision to end most of the tire production at its Melksham plant.
Cooper Tire confirmed 18 Jan that it will phase out passenger car and light vehicle tire production, with the loss of 312 jobs.
The announcement came four months after the US tire maker notified workers about proposed closures at the former Avon Tyres plant.
“We are blaming the continued dumping of cheap inferior tires from countries, such as China, for the jobs losses at Melksham,” said Unite regional officer Tony Hulbert.
“What also sticks in the gullet is that Cooper Tires constructed a purpose-built factory in Serbia, where labour costs are much cheaper than the UK,” Hulbert added in an 18 Jan statement.
Noting that production is moving to the Krusevac plant from Melksham, Hulbert said UK employees who helped train Serbian workers have now “lost their jobs to them.”
Cooper Tire has stated that the factory’s age and location in the centre of town made it infeasible to modernise or expand for light vehicle tire production.