UPDATE 1-France's Le Maire to fight 'appalling' Bridgestone plant closure

(Adds details/TOKYO dateline, Bridgestone comment)

PARIS/TOKYO Sept 17 (Reuters) - The French government is looking into options to try to save jobs and prevent the closure of a tire plant in northern France by its Japanese owner Bridgestone.

Bridgestone said on Wednesday that it would begin talks to close the factory in Bethune in the face of low demand for low-profile tires, its main product.

"Bridgestone took an appalling decision. The method is appalling and the consequences are appalling and we are going to fight" Le Maire told CNews television.

French government officials said Bridgestone's move was "brutal" and urged the company to look at alternative options for the factory, which employs 863 people and has a production capacity of about 17,000 tires.

"We are going to fight for a production that will be more attractive and review other options," Le Maire told CNews, adding that the state would also look at ways to "re-industrialize" the plant so that jobs be protected.

Bridgestone spokesman Fusamaro Iijima, in response to Le Maire's comments on Thursday, said the company would hold negotiations with representatives of local employees.

"We would like to hold talks sincerely and carefully. We aim to do our utmost so that the impact on the local community will be minimized," Iijima told Reuters. (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo; Editing by Alex Richardson and Alexander Smith)

09/17/2020 7:41

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