GM Antwerps welding line

GM Antwerp's welding line

Belgian unions involved with a potential rescue package for Opel's Antwerp plant are remaining tight-lipped concerning exactly what they are proposing to save the site, which is threatened with imminent closure.

Three unions representing staff at the Belgian plant put forward suggestions yesterday (9 March) to counter any plan to shutter the Antwerp factory, which remains Opel's stated intention.

Belgium's 'Loi Renault' rule allows unions to put forward proposals once a facility closure is announced, with GM indicating this could see the Opel Astra TwinTop coupé convertible produced at Antwerp.

However, Opel today maintained it has "repeatedly declared its intention to close the Antwerp" plant adding: "This intent has not changed."

Opel insisted it had examined alternatives to closure but insisted there was no viable alternative.

"Yesterday, employee representatives put forward a new proposal for the future of the plant," said Opel in a statement.

"We will examine this proposal. However, it is our belief that the best solution is to find a third party investor after a social plan for all employees in the Antwerp plant has been agreed upon."

Union representatives in Belgium declined to provide further just-auto with details of alternatives to the Antwerp closure, which is part of GM's sweeping restructuring of its European operations. That restructuring could see a 20% reduction in capacity and 8,300 jobs axed.

"Everything is floating," an IG Metall spokeswoman said. "Right now, we [have] decided not to give statements. "We have to look forward [as to] what we can do on the labour side."

GM said today it would continue to study the union proposal. " Until the evaluation has been concluded and a decision has been made, we will not speculate on individual aspects and the overall feasibility of this proposal," the company said.