Argentina has ceased to be a tire-manufacturing country as labor conflicts resulted in the closing of all three plants nationwide, although some of these measures have been reported to be a temporary issue.
Pirelli stopped production this weekend due to the lack of inputs because of union blockades dating back to over 100 days, joining Fate and Bridgestone. Unable to bring in nitrogen trucks Friday with such an essential input, the company Saturday closed down operations until further notice.
Before the union conflict, the plant had been operating at 50% of its capacity due to labor protests that kept part of the staff out of the premises.
These developments endanger the automotive industry, particularly companies that produce pickup trucks, which rely on local supply and may now too need to stop production. Nissan and Renault have already stopped production of the Frontier and Alaskan models in Córdoba.
The Sindicato Único de Trabajadores del Neumático Argentino (SUTNA), run by the left-wing Partido Obrero, has threatened to further radicalize the conflict, according to Ámbito. In the meantime, a nationwide shortage of tires has led to a huge increase in the price of the stock still available and also to the growth of smuggling.
Bridgestone announced the temporary closure of its operations in Argentina. As is publicly known, Bridgestone continues to face protracted union negotiations with Sutna in the framework of the 2021/2022 union review. At Bridgestone, the well-being and safety of our employees are our most important values and, as such, we are committed to providing a safe workplace for every employee, a statement from the company read.
As a result of the ongoing conflict on September 23, Bridgestone has decided to temporarily close all operations in Argentina to protect each person who is part of our team and to guarantee the integrity of our property, the document went on.
While it has not yet been determined when we will be able to resume operations, we will do so when we can guarantee the safety of all collaborators, it also noted.
Bridgestone will continue to work with the commitment to overcome this situation that currently puts the supply of tires in the market at risk. The company currently employs some 1,600 people.
Meanwhile, Union leaders have camped at the doorsteps of the Labor Ministry in Buenos Aires to press for a solution to the crisis. workers have deemed the salary increases offered by employers as insignificant in the country's current inflation scenario.
Liberal Deputy José Luis Espert said it was necessary to apply a jail or bullet policy to the workers and union representatives who carry out protests. Espert, of Javier Milei's political movement, was heavily criticized for his remarks.
While Fate said unions should be stripped of their legal status to close companies, the company still maintained it did share Espert's statements.