Ford of Europe insists last week’s announcement of its planned closure of its Genk, Belgium and Southampton, UK, plants as well as the axing of tooling and stamping work at Dagenham, is ‘absolutely necessary.’

The decision by Ford to drastically prune its European operations with the loss of an immediate 5,000 jobs and potentially up to 10,000, has incurred the wrath of unions, who say they will unite to fight the closure.

“We absolutely believe [in] what is necessary [for] an industry that is significantly ‘over-capacitised’ and what is necessary [for] the people remaining in the company,” Ford of Europe chairman and CEO, Stephen Odell, told just-auto.

“Ford will continue to monitor the situation and do what is necessary. We are investing significant money into our new product development – we have got 15 new products in five years.

“We will continue to monitor all aspects of our business – Europe is very volatile. With unemployment levels, it is a concern over future employment, it is holding back consumers.”

As well as provoking the fury of unions, Ford’s decision to close Genk has provoked a strong reaction from the Belgian government, which said it was “dismayed” at the move, that will also hit the country’s supply chain.

The federal government has reminded Ford of its “duties and obligations” as the automaker now starts a process of consultations with unions in line with Belgium’s Loi Renault.

News of the mass redundancies is a further blow to the the Limburg region of Belgium, in which Genk is situated, as it also suffered from a downsizing in the mining industry.