News Column

Ford Hopes to Close Belgian Plant Employing 4,300

Oct. 23, 2012

Jean-Baptiste Piggin, Alexandra Mayer-Hohdahl, Peter Lessmann, Christian Boehmer

Ford Motor Co. is hoping to close a plant in Belgium by the end of 2013, a German newspaper reported Tuesday.

Executives want to close the plant in Genk in the east of the country due to falling sales in Europe, but expect stiff resistance from unions representing the plant's 4,300 employees, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung cited unnamed corporate sources as saying.

Management and unions were due to hold a meeting Wednesday, amid speculation in the Belgian press that the company could announce plans to close the plant.

Union members blocked access to the plant Tuesday, the Belga news agency reported.

Sales of Ford cars in Europe have steadily declined over the past five years, prompting the company to cut manufacturing capacity.

Current data from industry body ACEA shows new registrations of Ford cars in Europe falling 12.6 per cent year-on-year in the first nine months of 2012.

A spokesman at Ford's German headquarters in Cologne said he could not comment on the "rumours" of plans to close the plant.

The Genk site manufactures Mondeo sedans and S-Max and Galaxy vans.

The picket had no practical effect, as work at Ford Genk was halted this week amid measures by the company to cut back on workers' hours.

Kris Peeters, the political leader of the Flanders region where Genk is located, told Belga that he worried the news at the special meeting would not be good.

"But let's nevertheless hope that this is not about a closure," he said.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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