Ford of Europe has hit back at Belgian unions which claimed to have signed a deal with the automaker to keep production at the now-doomed Genk plant.

Walter Cnop, general secretary of ACV Metea – Genk’s largest union – told just-auto the labour body had inked an agreement with Ford that agreed three models from 2013, in exchange for cost cutting measures.

However, Ford responded robustly to the union stance of a written deal five weeks ago, insisting no signature had been obtained.

“When I met the unions five weeks ago, we updated them at their request on the state of the gateways, of where the Mondeo was in terms of readiness,” Ford of Europe chairman and CEO, Stephen Odell, told just-auto today (25 October).

“There was no written agreement – there were no guarantees because they asked me. I was quoted after the meeting I was unable to give any guarantees… given the volatility of the situation.”

Odell maintains that, when the initial deal was agreed in 2010 for production up to 2014, there was an element whereby all parties could ‘reopen discussions’ if the industrial landscape changed.

“When we made that agreement we were looking [at an] industry of 16m-17m – the concern [is] at 14m this year and a similar outlook next year… we are not in the same place… when we signed the agreement,” said Odell.

Ford’s decision to axe its Genk plant could cost nearly 10,000 jobs, according to the Belgian government, which has factored in significant supply chain redundancies as a result of the automaker’s decision to shut the site.

Unions were earlier today blockading Genk while also protesting outside Ford’s Lommel test centre, with pictures showing vehicles burning and a significant amount of debris.

Cnop added ACV would look at whether the agreement was “worthless or not”.