Ford to Close Belgian Factory, 4,300 Jobless
By the end of 2014, Ford Motor Co plans to close a Belgian factory that employs 4,300 workers. The close will shift production to Spain in an attempt to save money and stem European losses.
A regional debt crisis, which led to spending cuts and high unemployment, caused Europe’s car market to slump and hurt consumer budgets.
Factories like the Ford plants in Genk and Valencia have not been running at full capacity as automakers cut production to match demand.
“The proposed restructuring of our European manufacturing operations is a fundamental part of our plan to strengthen Ford’s business in Europe and to return to profitable growth,” Ford Europe Chairman Stephen Odell said.
Ford’s Genk plant makes the Mondeo mid-size car and Galaxy and S-MAX minivans, both of which are approaching the end of their life cycles. The company has around 6,000 workers in Spain, with alone 3,485 in Valencia.
According to Reuters, several hundred of Ford’s workers gathered outside the soon-to-close plant while local managers met staff representatives on Wednesday. The gatherers were angry and surprised by news of the layoff, the press release said.
“(The closure) came as a surprise and is depressing news for 10,000 people employed directly and indirectly. It’s an unbelievable blow for the province of Limburg and for Belgium. It’s a black day,” Rohnny Champagne, provincial chairman of the ABVV-Metaal union, told Reuters by telephone.
Reuters reported Belgium also had two other plant closes with General Motors and French carmaker Renault closing their plants in 2010 and 1997, respectively.