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Thursday, 10 January, 2002, 20:52 GMT
Workers lose fight to save jobs
The Wolverhampton plant is Goodyear's oldest in the UK
More than 1,700 are employed at the Stafford Road plant
A last-ditch effort by workers to save 460 jobs at the UK's biggest tyre factory in Wolverhampton has failed.

After two days of crisis meetings, Goodyear officials confirmed the plant's truck-tyre division will close in March, and warned that the factory has a year to improve productivity.

Workers have been told the rest of the plant will close next March unless productivity improves dramatically.

Senior vice-president Vernon Dunckel headed the Goodyear management team in the talks after flying in from the company headquarters in Ohio.

The company said productivity at Wolverhampton is 37% below that at comparable plants.

Strike threat

The redundancy notices for the jobs were issued in October last year.

The plant is being run down systematically, there is no investment and the machinery is falling to bits

Goodyear worker

Company bosses said the industry is suffering from severe over-capacity and a drop in demand due to economic pressures.

Union leaders fear the loss of the truck-tyre division would mean the eventual closure of the whole site, which also makes car and farm tyres.

The redundancies come a year after 540 jobs were axed at the plant, which now has more than 1,700 employees.

Prior to the meeting, union leaders were threatening industrial action, including strikes, unless the company offered assurances that the Goodyear plant was safe in Wolverhampton.

World's biggest

But union leaders said afterwards that strike action had been ruled out for the time being.

One worker said: "The plant is being run down systematically, there is no investment and the machinery is falling to bits."

The Stafford Road plant in Wolverhampton has been producing tyres since the late 1920s.

In January last year the labour force rejected a deal under which 300 jobs would have gone in exchange for remaining workers accepting a pay cut and longer hours.

In 1999 Goodyear took a 10% stake in Sumitomo, surpassing its rivals Bridgestone and Michelin, to become the world's largest tyre manufacturer.

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See also:

08 Jan 01 | Business
Goodyear axes 500 jobs
03 Feb 99 | The Company File
Global deal creates tyre giant
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