French minister of finance Christine Lagarde has criticised Continental for its plans to shut down its production sites in Clairoix and Hanover.

Lagarde expressed doubt about the redundancy programme for the tyre plant in Clairoix, northern France, according to Die Welt. It was not certain if such a “brutal” closure was necessary for the site in Hanover either, she added. Conti could distribute the burdens between all plants rather than close some of them, the minister suggested.

Around 700 Conti workers demonstrated in Paris on Wednesday in an attempt to defend their jobs while some earlier invaded a works council meeting and pelted managers with eggs while effigies of executives burned outside.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy supports the disgruntled Conti employees in their efforts to find the best possible solutions, his advisor Raymond Soubie said.

On Thursday employees of Conti and its major shareholder, Schaeffler, will demonstrate in Hanover for the preservation of the local tyre factory.

Conti has moved its French works council meeting next Tuesday from Reims to Nice in an attempt to dodge protesters.