Italy Protests Bridgestone Tire Plant Closure

MILAN (AP) -- Italy's labor minister is criticizing a decision by the Bridgestone tire company to close a plant in southern Italy as "serious and without reason."

Corrado Passera protested in a letter to the Japanese company, released by the labor ministry Thursday, that the company had failed to work with authorities to find another solution.

Bridgestone Corporation's European division announced Tuesday the closure of the passenger car tire production plant near Bari by early next year, citing a slump in demand due to declining auto sales in Europe. The company said demand for tires produced at the plant was down 13 percent last year from 2011, with no prospect for returning to earlier volumes before 2020.

The plant employs 950 workers to produce 21,000 tires a day.

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