Continental is to discontinue tyre production at its Aachen plant by the end of 2022 at the latest.

Manufacture in Aachen will continue with up to 1,200 employees for longer than originally planned: instead of the end of 2021, the gradual phasing out of production is now envisaged by the end of 2022 at the latest.

In addition, up to 500 employees are to remain at the tyre plant in 2023. The adjustment will be accompanied by a training initiative.

For employees close to retirement age, Continental says the extension will also simplify the transfer to a statutory pension. A transfer company is to be set up for the training and procurement of follow-up employment on the job market. The social partners have also agreed on a volunteer programme.

“The discontinuation of tyre production in Aachen is painful,” said Continental executive board member for HR, Ariane Reinhart. “We are aware of the consequences of this step for our employees and we stand by our responsibility. We can only overcome the transformation of our industry and its jobs through a practiced and resilient social partnership.

“The agreement now reached creates clarity and prospects for our employees in Aachen and is an expression of the social partners’ ability to shape the future. Our training initiative is intended to enable the affected employees to make as direct a transition as possible ‘from work to work.'”

The employees at the tyre plant have the opportunity to retrain for the internal and external job market at full pay. Unskilled and semi-skilled employees in particular can, for example, complete a further training course certified by the German chambers of Industry and Commerce at the company’s own CITT (Continental Institute for Technology and Transformation) with the option of obtaining a full professional qualification. In addition, the company will ensure all trainees at the tyre plant in Aachen can complete their training at Continental.

The supplier adds the agreement now reached on the production period is another important prerequisite for ongoing talks on viable re-use of the factory premises. To this end, Continental will maintain an open dialogue with all stakeholders and work in close coordination with them. This also includes the participants of the roundtable for the city of Aachen that was set up for this discussion.

“The discontinuation of production in Aachen is unavoidable due to the massive structural overcapacity in the European tyre market,” noted a Continental statement. “It has not been growing for several years and a recovery in market demand is not expected in the foreseeable future.

“Continental must therefore adjust its production capacity to the declining market trend in order to secure the competitiveness and future viability of its remaining tyre production in the long term. The tyre plant in Aachen is the smallest and also the most cost-intensive site in the company’s European production network.”