Goodyear Workers’ Clash Leaves 19 French Police Injured

Nineteen police officers were injured after clashes today with workers at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company protesting the closing of a plant in France.

Six of the police officers were taken for medical treatment, while one protester was arrested, the Paris police press office said. The protesters were throwing stones and other projectiles at the law enforcement officers, the police said. They were demonstrating in front of Goodyear’s French headquarters in Rueil-Malmaison, a western suburb of Paris.

Last month, the 1,173 workers at Goodyear whose jobs are at risk demonstrated with their spouses and children in the town of Amiens, in northern France, where the U.S.’s largest tire-maker plans to close a plant. In a statement today, Goodyear said it condemns the “acts of violence.”

With the number of French jobless at a 15-year high -- leaving about 3.17 million people seeking employment -- labor unrest is turning into one of the biggest threats to the government of Socialist President Francois Hollande. Hollande, who promised to reverse the trend of rising joblessness by year-end, may be set to acknowledge that it’s a pledge he may not be able to keep.

The CGT union condemned the “outburst of police violence,” it said in an e-mailed statement today. “Six employees have been injured, two of whom got a two-week medical leave,” the main union at the Goodyear plant said.

Planned auto factory closings elsewhere in the region have also stoked rising social tensions, as long-time workers face unemployment with no clear prospects for finding another job.

Ford Clash

PSA Peugeot Citroen, Europe’s second-biggest carmaker, has barely produced any vehicles since Jan. 16 at its factory in Aulnay, on the outskirts of Paris, which is slated to close by 2014. A group of about 300 workers is blocking production and the head of plant was held for a few hours last October.

The head of Ford Motor Co.’s factory in Genk, Belgium, was also held for about an hour last month by a group of workers opposed to a plan to close the plant, which employs 4,300.

Goodyear announced plans on Jan. 31 to shut the Amiens factory, citing the failure of five years of negotiations with the main CGT union at the plant to increase productivity. Goodyear currently employs about 3,000 people across the country and there’s no set date for the closing, spokeswoman Mathilde Davadant said.