Munich, Germany – Continental is to close its tire plant in Aachen by the end of 2021, according to information from the trade union IG BCE. 1800 jobs, it said, would be affected, though this has not yet been definitively decided.
The supplier, which is struggling with heavy losses, had only announced at the beginning of September that it would tighten its ongoing austerity and corporate restructuring. However, the tire division is still considered to be comparatively profitable.
The IG BCE, therefore, came in strongly critical of the plans: "The [measure] is not justified by the transformation of the car industry, nor by the Corona crisis," explained Francesco Grioli, a member of the union's executive board.
Christiane Benner, vice chairwoman of the trade union IG Metall and deputy chairwoman of Continental's supervisory board, added: "Announcing further job cuts is a short-sighted answer to economic problems. ... Conti management must finally come up with a future-oriented business strategy. We will not allow a traditional company to be ruined."
Continental has not commented publicly on the matter.
The factory in Aachen — a city of nearly 250,000 in western Germany near the border with Belgium and the Netherlands — was opened in 1931 by then-independent Belgian tire maker Société du Pneu Englebert, which became Uniroyal-Englebert in the late 1950s. Continental acquired that company in 1979.
Capacity there stands at 8 million units a year, according to Conti data. Among products built there are Conti's "SSR" (self-supporting) run-flat tires.
Udo Bohnhof, chairman of the works council at the plant, said: "This plan hits us without any warning.
"In a crisis, the board of directors falls back on management methods that have long been believed to have been overcome. That speaks of central Conti values such as trust and solidarity."
Deputy Works Council Chairman Bruno Hickert added: "For years, our colleagues have been working 40 hours a week without wage compensation, and the profits from Aachen have helped to finance the expansion of the tire division worldwide. And that should now be the thanks?"
ERJ's sister publication Tire Business contributed to this report.