No rescue. Veteran PE tyre plant to close

04 November 2020 | Web Article Number: ME202021131

Automotive
Manufacturing
Plastics & Rubber

BRIDGESTONE South Africa (BSAF) has finalised the process to close its tyre manufacturing plant in Port Elizabeth, this despite a promise by Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane to do all he could to prevent this happening.

The company confirmed in a statement yesterday, 3 November 2020, that the 84-year-old plant’s last day of operation would be 15 November.

It first announced plans to close the facility in August and initiated a Section 189 notice, along with a 60-day consultative process with its 252 affected workers in compliance with the Labour Relations Act.

No rescue. Veteran PE tyre plant to close

“The proposal to close the plant was not taken lightly and the impact on employees has been taken into account from the outset,” said Chief Executive Jacques Fourie.

“We endeavoured to treat employees with the utmost compassion and fairness to support them through the change, while adhering to all legal requirements and due diligence.”

BSAF has in recent years seen its financial performance come under pressure, hard-hit by a variety of economic conditions and industry factors.

Chief among these industry changes was the bias industrial and off-the-road tyres manufactured at the Port Elizabeth plant being phased out in the market, as a result of a growing trend in the production and use of radial tyres globally.

“The unfortunate reality is that the plant is simply unable to produce the radial tyre that industry is rapidly moving towards,” said Fourie.

“Upgrading the factory to produce radial tyres would have necessitated an investment in a completely new multi-billion-rand plant, which is not feasible or justifiable under any circumstances, especially in the current economy.”

Fourie said concerted efforts to keep the plant going, including the sale of the factory to investors, had proved unsuccessful. He added that
company directors took the decision to close the plant only after exhausting all alternative options.

“BSAF is still committed to serving society with superior quality in Southern Africa and its Brits manufacturing facility will continue to fully operate,” the company said in a statement.

It added that it would ensure “all the necessary support” is provided to employees as the operation winds up.

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