Goodyear tires Todd Warshaw, Getty Images

French Court Orders Goodyear to Stop Stripping Factory

Former employees want to take over the shuttered factory, which closed last year.

AMIENS, France — A French court has ordered U.S. tire company Goodyear to stop dismantling its former factory in the northern town of Amiens, which a group of ex-employees wants to take over, a union lawyer said Monday.

The court in Amiens “has suspended the dismantlement of the factory for three months,” said Fiodor Rilov, a lawyer for the CGT trade union which is supporting the effort to resurrect production at the site, which had employed 1,173 people.

Goodyear closed the site making tires for agricultural vehicles last year after years of negotiations with unions failed to come up with a viable plan for the plant, and then talks failed with Titan International to take it over.

The site became a sort of poster child for poor labor-management relations and the difficulties of investing in France.

Workers “boss-napped” two of the factory’s executives in a last-ditch effort to get better severance benefits and Titan’s chief executive Maurice Taylor publicly ridiculed French laws and trade unions that he said had prevented him from rescuing the stricken factory by requiring too many jobs be preserved to make it a profitable venture.

Taylor, known as “The Grizz” for his tough talk, had earlier made waves when in 2013 he wrote a letter to the French industrial renewal minister calling French workers lazy and overpaid after years of negotiations by Titan to take over the Amiens plant had failed.

Goodyear last month rejected the proposal by the Scop cooperative, judging it not viable.

Rilov said that Goodyear had only addressed one of the proposed scenarios and had not examined the possibility of simply selling the equipment. “We still hope to convince them to let us acquire the equipment, paying what it’s worth, instead of sending the machines to the scrapyard,” he said.

The court ordered that the equipment remain at the factory for at least three months as talks are held on the proposal by Scop.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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