The Bridgestone plant in Béthune employs 863 people -

F. Launay / 20 Minutes

  • On Wednesday September 16, the Japanese tire manufacturer Bridgestone announced the closure of its Béthune plant.

  • Since then, the government has been trying to find a solution to save the site's 863 jobs.

  • But in the factory, we balance between hope and skepticism

At the entrance to Béthune, in the middle of an industrial zone, the Bridgestone factory has become the center of economic and social interest of the country.

Since Wednesday and the brutal announcement of the closure of the only French factory of the Japanese tire manufacturer, all politicians have come to the bedside of the 863 employees of the site threatened with unemployment.

Monday afternoon, two ministers made the trip to try to get things done and avoid a sudden closure.

But in front of the factory, if we try to believe it again, we hardly have any illusions about a positive outcome.

“I came back to the factory.

I was in low spirits.

When you see comrades crying, it doesn't make you happy.

It's misery, the hard law of capital with a shareholder who always wants to binge more.

He does not hesitate to close factories and kill families, ”laments Jean-Luc Ruckebusch, CGT union official at Bridgestone Béthune.

"I have the impression of being in the film Un jour sans fin"

Come to visit the employees this Monday morning, François Ruffin also points the finger at the capitalist system and its excesses.

“I have the impression of reliving the film

Un jour sans fin

with each time the same story that happens again.

Twenty years ago, it was at Whirlpool for the washing machines that left for Slovakia.

Then I got to know Honeywell, Flodor chips, Goodyear left for Poland, Continental left for Romania… At Bridgestone, I came to say stop.


François Ruffin came to visit Bridgestone employees - F. Launay / 20 Minutes

“Emmanuel Macron spoke this spring of a madness of globalization, saying that it was not normal for our sovereignty to lose the manufacture of drugs, of clothes that have gone to the other side of the world.

I hope that Bridgestone will be a stopping point for that, ”annoys the deputy for France Insoumise.

Border tax or other import quotas, the elected representative wants to question the free trade system responsible according to him for a situation accepted by the authorities for decades.

The hope of a rescue still remains

“I think that there has been a complicity of power and governments for forty years to allow social, environmental and fiscal dumping to take place.

Now we have to put them up against the wall.

I know their speech in advance.

It will be revitalization, reindustrialisation, reclassification, training.

I feel like I'm playing social bingo where I tick the boxes in their speech and spiel prepared in advance.

If we accept free trade, we accept social dumping as a whole.

But afterwards, we must not come and whine, ”tackle François Ruffin.

Still, nothing has been done at Bridgestone yet.

An agreement was signed last Friday by management and staff representatives to find alternatives to the closure in the next five months.

“We have hope.

All we hope is that Bridgestone goes back on its word.

It was like that in Bari (Italy).

If another corporate project is needed for the site, why not.

But it is above all employment that must be saved.

Whatever happens, we will fight to the end ”, confides the CGT union official.

While many no longer believe in the speeches of politicians, employees still keep the faith to limit damage and avoid sinking permanently.


Bridgestone: After an agreement between management and employees, the State goes to the bedside of the Béthune plant on Monday


Bridgestone: Elected officials and unions will meet Monday with ministers of Labor and Industry in Béthune

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