Ford’s largest union at its doomed Genk plant says it will examine the agreement it maintains it signed with the US automaker a few weeks ago and which it believed would see continued production at the Belgian plant.
“We signed agreements [with] Ford of Europe [which included] cost reduction in favour of three new models built from October, 2013 – that was the agreement,” ACV Metea general secretary, Walter Cnop, told just-auto from Belgium.
“An investment even signed by [Ford of Europe chairman and CEO] Stephen Odell. Five weeks ago due to to several rumours about a possible closure or not [about] production of the new Mondeo, he reconfirmed it in writing.
“We are going to investigate if signed agreements are worthless or not. Then we will see what we will do to Ford of Europe.”
Cnop also disputed any talk of Genk workers being considerably more expensive than other sites around Europe, arguing production costs were around 55% when factoring in third parties.
Ford of Europe however, has responded robustly to ACV’s comments on the agreement inked two years ago, insisting it was dependent on the performance of the general economy.
“We have an agreement signed in 2010 with the unions for investment,” a Ford of Europe spokesman told just-auto. “At that time we did talk about some future products and employment through to 2014.
“There was also a clause in that the agreement was subject to economic conditions. If [there was] an economic downturn we would talk again. There has not been a new agreement.”
The ACV union – representing 65% of Genk’s 4,300 workers – also blasted Ford top management for deciding to leave yesterday’s announcement to the local Works Council – and travelling directly to Brussels instead to meet the Belgian Prime Minister.
“Odell did not even have the guts himself to tell us – he went straight to Brussels,” said Cnop. “He asked us to come to Brussels and we refused – there is no sense in meeting that man,” said Cnop.