MEXICO CITY—Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s Mexican subsidiary hopes to reach an agreement on concessions by September with unions representing more than 1,000 workers at its Cuernavaca and Mexico City factories.
Negotiations between the unions and company have advanced at a good pace since there is a very good disposition on the part of the union to reach an agreement, said Jorge Gonzalez, president of Bridgestone/Firestone de Mexico S.A. de C.V. The talks started in June.
The tire maker wants wage and benefit concessions because it says it pays workers about $2 to $6 per hour more than other countries. While the majority of Bridgestone/Firestone workers are paid based on a piece-work rate, wages, depending on position, can range from $8 to $12 per hour plus benefits, he said.
In Mexico benefits are extremely high, when compared with U.S. standards, he said. Benefits can exceed 100 percent of wages.
"They (union) realize that the industry is not competitive as a result of the current economic slowdown and the large number of low-price imports," Mr. Gonzalez said.
The union is committed to saving jobs, he said. Negotiations have been slow since they are complex "in the sense that each position is being individually analyzed in order to choose the best alternative to increase productivity and reduce the labor cost."
Management prefaced the talks with a threat to close the plants unless the company got concessions.
Mexican economic growth slowed in the early part of 2001, he said, and this, combined with the current slowdown in the U.S. economy, has affected business.
Unions representing plant employees are the Mexican Republic Rubber Industry Workers and Bridgestone/Firestone de Mexico National. The subsidiary employs about 365 at its Mexico City facility and 750 in Cuernavaca.
The Cuernavaca site produces about 13,000 radial passenger and light truck tires per day while the Mexico City facility manufactures about 2,700 bias-ply light truck and truck/bus tires daily.