Continental’s CEO and chairman are adamant the company will close tyre production sites in Hanover and Clairoix, France, despite protests by affected workers.

CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann told Financial Times Deutschland: “We have to deal with an unprecedented crisis.” It would be a long time before tyre markets returned to normal, he added.

Chairman Rolf Koerfer said there could be no economically sensible alternative to plant closures.

Werner Bischoff, another member of Continental’s supervisory board, who represents trade union IG Bergbau, Chemie, Energie (IG BCE), has repeatedly criticised the plans. The board will discuss the issue again in four weeks.