BURTON-ON-TRENT, England — Pirelli & C. S.p.A. is seeking to scale back production at its Burton on Trent passenger tire plant, with the loss of 80 jobs, according to trade union Unite.
The company has announced that it is in consultation with trade unions about proposals to reorganize one department at the 400-employee plant in north-central England. Unite said talks center on the factory's MIRS (modular integrated robotized system) production line.
"Considering the challenging economic outlook, compounded by the COVID-19 emergency, Pirelli will reorganize one department at Burton-on-Trent," Pirelli said.
Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders estimates show a decline of 29.4% of new car registrations in the United Kingdom, Pirelli pointed out. The company also cited U.K. department of transport data at the end of January, showing a 48.3% year-on-year fall in car-usage.
Unite, however, criticized the company for not taking up the furlough scheme for these workers, instead of pushing ahead with the redundancies.
"Unite is bitterly disappointed that the Pirelli bosses have started to consult on redundancies in Burton-on-Trent, rather than furlough the workers concerned for the maximum time possible," Rick Coyle, the union's regional officer, said.
According to a Unite press release, the union represents the workforce at the Pirelli Burton plant, currently about 280 members.
In its statement, Pirelli emphasized its commitment to maintaining industrial operations at both its locations in the U.K., Carlisle and Burton-on-Trent.
The company said it had invested $90 million from 2018 to 2020 and was proceeding with planned investments of around $26 million this year.
"For Pirelli, the U.K. operation remains a valuable part of the group's global industrial footprint and central to the service of local customers," the company concluded.
Pirelli has operated a MIRS production line since 2001 at the Burton plant, which opened in 1969. Capacity for passenger tires at that plant is listed as 200,000 units a year.
Pirelli also uses the highly automated MIRS technology at its U.S. plant in Rome, Ga., and in Breuberg, Germany.