Authoritative sources in Belgium say there is a “fight” going on between the automaker, the Flemish government, city authorities and the port concerning the sale of the former GM factory site in Antwerp which produced its last Astra in December 2010.
The closure of the site with a resulting loss of thousands of jobs caused intense resentment in Belgium, but Opel insisted the drastic measure was essential as part of its European restructuring strategy. At its height, the plant employed 2,500 people.
“We have a game again between the Flemish government and GM,” a reliable Belgian union source told just-auto. “[Some] 36 potential investors were in for the site, of which 40% were automotive or supply industry.
“The fight is between GM, the harbour authorities, the city of Antwerp and the Flemish government. It is a big site that could create 1,000 jobs at least. The government wants to buy the plant, but of course at a reasonable price, that’s the problem.”
The union source noted the majority of Opel workers made redundant by Antwerp’s closure were still employed in the metal industry, with others going to Volvo and Audi, but that some were on temporary contracts, a situation he believed could be precarious given the global economic portents.
“The only problem is with the crisis coming, that they don’t have a permanent contract,” he said. “Most of them have temporary contracts and in the next few months that could lead to a lot of people being let off.
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An Opel spokesman in Germany confined himself to noting to just-auto: “Work is in progress.”