Europe’s car crisis found 4,300 new victims: As expected, union representatives at Ford’s Genk plant in Belgium were told this morning that the plant will be closed. 4,300 workers will be out of a job.
“The management has decided to close the car assembly and the press activities in Genk at the end of the current production cycle in 2014,” Luc Prenen, ACV union representative, told workers by megaphone while Reuters was taking notes.
“This will result in the closing of the Genk production site and will cause the loss of 4,300 jobs,” Prenen said.
Higher level Ford managers from Ford did not attend the meeting. Local managers simply read out a statement. It caused small riots. Said Prenen:
“After the announcement there were some rough scenes. There was some pushing and shoving but we managed to calm it down. It was aimed at the management but they left quickly. It was also among each other as people were very angry and frustrated.”
Meetings with senior level managers are reserved for Belgian VIPs. Ford Europe managers will meet Belgian Prime Minister Elio di Rupo and Employment Minister Monica De Coninck later in the day.
Shutting the plant down will become costly for Ford. According to one employee, “most people here are over 40.” Severance payments for long-serving older employees can become quite high. An analyst did put the closing cost of the Belgian factory at $1.4 billion, or $ 325,000 per worker.
Belgium’s loss is Spain’s gain. Ford will shift production of its new Mondeo, S-Max and Galaxy models to Valencia, Spain, from Belgium, union representative Luc Prenen told Reuters. The Genk plant originally was scheduled to start producing the new Mondeo in October 2013.