Venezuelan Government takes over Goodyear plant

Friday, December 14, 2018

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CARACAS, Venezuela (AFP) — The Venezuelan g overnment took control Tuesday of installations owned by Goodyear, a day after the US tyre-maker closed its operations in the crisis-torn South American country.

In a statement read on state VTV television, the government said it had taken all necessary steps to re-establish production at the Goodyear plant in the industrial city of Valencia.

Goodyear abruptly closed the plant on Monday, announcing the decision in a statement posted on the factory gate that said the company had been “forced to cease operations”.

Venezuela has been in an accelerating economic freefall under President Nicolas Maduro, beset by hyperinflation and shortages that have driven hundreds of thousands of people to leave the country.

The government said it was taking over the Goodyear plant to protect its 1,160 workers and asked the attorney general's office to launch a criminal investigation into “this act of sabotage and boycott.”

The company said it has paid its workers' salaries and benefits, and would make an “additional extraordinary” payment in the coming days, and allow workers to have 10 tyres apiece.

The factory was operating at barely 20 per cent of capacity, producing 10,500 tyres a day, according to union leaders.

The government characterised Goodyear's decision as part of an “escalation of attacks” against economic reforms launched by Maduro in August.

The plant closing is part of “a file of destabilisation and continuous aggressions that the United States promotes against Venezuela”, it said.

The government has so far been unable to halt a spiral of shortages and raging hyperinflation that the International Monetary Fund has estimated will reach 10 million per cent in 2019.

Shortages of parts and tyres, combined with high prices, have resulted in the grounding of 90 per cent of Venezuela's public transportation fleet.

The government has moved to take over the holdings of other foreign companies that have halted operations.

In August, it took similar action when tyre-maker Pirelli closed its plant for lack of raw materials after 28 years in the country.

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