French Laws Force Goodyear To Keep Failing Factory Open

Why wouldn't you invest there?


For years tyre giant Goodyear has been trying to stem losses at a plant in northern France, but has failed to persuade unions to agree to its plans. Now it wants to close the factory, and the battle has moved to the courts. How much longer can the struggle continue?

The burly man stands in front of me with folded arms like a bouncer at a night club. "No way," he says. "You can't go in. The lawyer is talking and that's secret."

Through the glass doors I can see rows of workers from the American-owned Goodyear tyre factory, sitting and listening intently. Many wear red T shirts which say Patrons Voyous—the Bosses Are Thugs. They all belong to the CGT (Confederation Generale du Travail) the country's largest trade union.

Eventually I am allowed into the hall to hear a rousing speech from Mickael Wamen, the union's representative at the Goodyear plant. There are loud cheers and fists in the air as he announces the latest tactic—blocking the factory entrance from 4am on Monday morning.

He is in a defiant mood as he tells me about a string of legal victories which have so far prevented the US company from closing the factory with the loss of 1,173 jobs.