Closure of Bridgestone: a blow to the whole city of Béthune

Closure of Bridgestone: a blow to the whole city of Béthune

After two months of negotiations, the Japanese tire manufacturer confirms the closure of its factory in Pas-de-Calais in the spring of 2021. An announcement which throws the 863 employees in the dark and which worries Bethun traders.

The Bridgestone tire plant in Béthune (Pas-de-Calais) (EMMANUEL BOUIN / FRANCE BLEU NORD)

In Béthune (Pas-de-Calais) the Bridgestone page definitely turned on Thursday 12 November. It is the Minister of Industry, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, on the spot, who announced it at the end of an express negotiation meeting which lasted less than five minutes. The Japanese tire giant has “close the door”To the alternative recovery scenario proposed by theState. A blow for the employees and the region.

Employees between anger and resignation

In front of the factory gates, shortly after the announcement, no demonstrators. No banners either. Only a few supports for employees from the road, honking. In the factory, employees are at work behind the production lines, despite the news. “In a few months, there will be nothing left and we will be without a job“, Explains one of them. One of his colleagues added: “We are angry, very sad!”Maximilien joined the teams for over a year and a half, “Beyond our own opinion, our need to work and earn money, there are things that come into play that go beyond our odd jobs apparently.”

Others are more resigned. They had been expecting it for weeks, explains Patrice. He spent a whole part of his life working for the Japanese tire giant. It idles, so it closes. No one has arms anymore, no one wants to work or fatten Bridgestone. We don’t want to leave with nothing in our pockets. ”

In the company on the other side of the road, Richard thinks first of all the families of the factory workers. “We know some people. It’s not going to be easy for everyone I think. I wish them good luck especially. There may be some that will be replaced on the right to the left, but when you move there is a road to go, the children in high school, in college. “

The concern of the merchants of Béthune

In the city center, the announcement of the closure has spread like wildfire. At the Le Khedive tobacco shop, the manager Paul does not understand. he worries about his clients who work there, but also about his business. “I have a lot of clients who work at Bridgestone”, he explains.

In the meantime, the standoff will continue. Bridgestone ensures in a press release that it has already identified ten opportunities, including four well-defined projects. Still too vague for the inter-union of the northern site.