BELGIUM: Unions blockade Ford Genk gates as 'European crisis' only agenda topic
Belgian unions are currently blockading the gates of Ford's Genk site as it has emerged only one topic - 'European crisis' - will be on the agenda of tomorrow's (24 October) emergency meeting.
Intense speculation in Belgium is centering on fears the automaker could announce a significant restructuring tomorrow at the plant employing 4,300 staff with thousands more supply workers on the same site.
All of Belgian's unions involved in the local Works Council have been summoned by Ford to the emergency meeting tomorrow at the Genk plant, while the manufacturer will also travel to Brussels to see the Flemish President and Belgian Prime Minister.
"They have blocked the gates so no car can leave the plant," ABVV-FGTB union cabinet staff member, Rudi Kennes told just-auto from Belgium. "All three unions are blocking the gates. The agenda topic is what I got on the phone by [ABVV] secretary there, 'European crisis.' There is only one point on the agenda, which is 'European crisis,' period.
[Tomorrow] "They [Ford] have the exceptional Works Council and then they travel to Brussels and the European management has a meeting with the President of Flanders, Kris Peeters and the Federal Prime Minister of Belgium, Elio dei Rupo."
Kennes added Genk is currently on a temporary shut-down due to last until the end of this week, with production slated to restart next Monday (29 October).
Only last month, it seemed likely Ford would continue assembly of the successors to the Galaxy and S-MAX models at Genk, but tomorrow's meeting has thrown this into doubt.
The union spokesman said he did not think Belgian politicians were aware of any more information, but the Flanders government is believed to have committed EUR28m (US$36m) to Ford Genk and will be keen to hear the outcome of Wednesday's meeting following its experience of GM and its Antwerp plant, which saw more than 1,000 workers lose their jobs.
Ford in Germany confined itself to noting to just-auto yesterday: "We are not going to comment on discussions with our unions."