Michelin is cutting just over 700 jobs at its Joué-lès-Tours plant in the Loire region of France.
It is the latest car industry manufacturer to respond to the European downturn with layoffs.
The news was not received well at the factory, which makes tyres for lorries.
Patrick Fontaine, a 36-year veteran at the plant, wept as he said it was sickening to be fired after so many years. He called it “disgusting and unacceptable”.
Of the 930 strong workforce, 250 workers face early retirement and around 200 will stay on in non-production roles by 2015.
A further 480 staff are being offered positions at other Michelin plants in France, or abroad.
Claude Guillon, a representative with the CGT trade union said: “Michelin has money, as we saw with its latest annual results. The shares are doing better than ever, and the shareholders’ dividend has tripled. So the workers want the best possible payoffs.
At the same time the world’s second-largest tyremaker, said it will invest 800 million euros to improve competitiveness and boost exports from its home country.
Going for economies of scale, it intends to double truck tyre output from another plant at La Roche-sur-Yon on the west coast of France.
The economic downturn in Europe has seen vehicle sales near a 20-year low and tyre demand sagging worldwide.