Bridgestone plant in Béthune (pas-de-Calais), September 21, 2020 (AFP / DENIS CHARLET)
Management of the Bridgestone tire plant in Béthune (Pas-de-Calais), which is slated to close on May 3, announced Wednesday the sale of the site to SIG, a subsidiary of Northern Log’s logistics company, to develop it into an “industrial hub,” a project that mobilizes the government and the region.
In a joint press release, Bridgestone France and SIG indicated that they had signed, on April 20, the “Industrial Acquisition and Development Agreement for the entire Béthune site in order to accommodate various projects and create a multi-industrial pole.-Technologies”.
“SIG will acquire the entire site” which Bridgestone France is selling “for a nominal sum”, have identified the stakeholders who see this sale as “robust work in support of site recovery and remanufacturing”, and will be closed. Cut about 850 jobs.
The press release adds: “Bridgestone France is also committed to participating in development investments alongside SIG,” while Log Group commits to “using a portion of the site to develop its logistical activities by 2022”.
“Les porteurs de projets, qui sont pour certains déjà en discussion avec Bridgestone afin d’évaluer la faisabilité à long terme et le potentiel de création d’emplois de chaque projet, se verront garantir des coûts de location particulièrement favorables”, est-il specific.
The plant, which the Japanese giant brutally declared shutdown in mid-September, citing excess production capacity in Europe and competition from low-cost Asian markets, should be permanently closed on May 3.
“We will be mobilized to ensure the passage of this training course,” both in terms of reclassification of employees and activation of the site, he said Wednesday at a conference call by Minister of Industry Anias Panier Ronacher at the conference resulting from the video conferences with representatives of the group, the Béthune-Bruay bloc, Hauts-de-France and staff.
– “Keep pressing Bridgestone” –
Of Bridgestone’s employees, more than 180 have so far found a new job (CDI or CDD of more than six months), and 57 have asked for early retirement, with nearly twenty companies set up.
Nine projects are also being examined for activities, with the latest arbitration expected at the end of the first half of 2022, with the aim of “creating several hundreds of jobs, both industrial and logistical.”
The minister emphasized that “the logistical project is capable of providing 300 job opportunities, but we want to limit it to the transfer of productive activities,” for which 80% of the site can be allocated.
The sale of the site is a “good thing” but “we have to keep the pressure on Bridgestone” to redevelop the site, in reaction to Xavier Bertrand, former LR head of the district and presidential candidate. In particular, he said, the goal is to transfer part of the group’s logistical activities from Antwerp, Belgium, to Python.
Two of the projects under study are related to retrofit and recycling activities related to tires, and the third is on battery recycling, according to the Minister and Mr. Bertrand.
Forty or so employees at odds with the combined unions, united under the name “Freedoms from Bridgestone,” also suffered a setback in front of the Aras Commercial Court, according to their attorney May Fyodor Relov.
He said that the court ruled on Tuesday that the appeal “is inadmissible” through which it intends to admit that the current French administration is in conflict with the interests of the factory and employees, and to obtain an administrative appointment. I Rilov intends to appeal.
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