Previous estimates suggest Genk closure could trigger up to 11,000 job losses

Previous estimates suggest Genk closure could trigger up to 11,000 job losses

Belgian trade unions are resigning themselves to the imminent shuttering of Ford's Genk plant in Belgium with the loss of 4,300 jobs, but do not expect social unrest as a result.

Similar closures in France - by PSA Peugeot Citroen's site near Paris and Goodyear's factory near Amiens - provoked widespread union demonstrations and direct action such as tyre burning and even "hostage" taking of management but Genk would appear to be on a more peaceable scale.

"I suppose to be quite honest, it will be smooth," ABVV provincial president, Rhonny Champagne, told just-auto from Genk. "There will be emotion. I am quite sure our guys know what is coming and even if they are potentially not ready to say goodbye to their job, there is no way around it.

"Some fears - it will be hard - but I don't think we have to expect some social disturbances."

The only chink of light in the gloomy employment environment for the Limburg region in which Genk is situated - itself a victim of mine closures 20 years ago - is potential interest by Punch Metals in taking on some stamping work with the possible rescue of 200 jobs.

"If there is one interested party left - it is Punch and they showed their interest a few months ago," said Champagne.

"For us, it would be a least a step in the right direction."

Somebody interested in discussions surrounding Genk confirmed to just-auto: "The plan is still to close the plant at the end of the year.

"They are currently building around 370 S-Max and Galaxies there - the last production will be 18 [or] 19 December.

"[There is] somebody interested in discussions - probably there has been some discussion."