Continental has postponed a decision on shutting down a truck tyre plant in its home base of Hanover, the company and worker representatives said on Tuesday.

The supplier, which is struggling with a collapse of orders from the auto industry, has said it would halt most truck tyre production there from the end of this year, Reuters noted.

Employees would not be laid off immediately, but would have their working hours reduced by 100%, while still getting at least part of their pay. German labour law allows companies to shorten working hours for a certain time to cut costs, the report said.

The company would maintain production capacity of 500,000 tyres to the end of 2010, for which 300 of the current 780 employees would be required, it said. The plant now has an annual capacity of 1.4m tyres.

In mid-2010, Continental would decide whether to continue production of tyres in Hanover-Stoecken in 2011.

This year, 200 employees would leave the plant, with another 225 following in the first three quarters of 2010. Another 300 jobs would disappear if Continental decided to shut down the plant at the end of next year, Reuters said.

"We win time and are given extra options," employee representative Michael Deister said in a statement cited by the news agency.

Since Continental announced its decision to close tyre plants in Germany and France in March, French unions have unsuccessfully tried to take legal action, and workers in both countries have staged protests several times, as recently as Monday, the report added.

Protests, though peaceful in Germany, had turned violent in France, where the supplier plans to close its Clairoix-based plant, which has 1,120 employees.

On Monday, hundreds of Continental workers had burnt tyres outside of Paris' old stock market to put pressure on management.