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Belgium’s government says it is “dismayed” by today’s (24 October) news Ford is to close its Genk plant in 2014 with potential job losses of up to 10,000.

The Belgian Prime Minister, Elio di Rupo, the Vice Prime Ministers and the Employment Minister, met senior Ford management today in Brussels, while the Flemish President is also scheduled to hold discussions with the US automaker.

“The Federal Government is dismayed by the Ford Genk announcement,” a statement from Belgian Prime Minister, Elio di Rupo’s office, said. “This is a drama for the numerous workers impacted and a hard blow not only for the Limburg economy, but also for the Belgian economy as a whole.

“In these difficult moments, the government’s thoughts first go to the 4,300 Ford Genk workers, as well as the 5,000 staff of numerous sub-contractors, who are equally affected.

Ford has told the Belgian government the reasons for its decision to shut Genk are the result of general over-capacity in the automobile sector and the poor economic outlook.

However, the Belgian government has reminded Ford of its “duties and obligations” as an employer as the manufacturer now starts the process of consultation with unions, in line with the country’s Loi Renault. 

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“It is also essential different authorities unite with a view to finding new economic activities for the region,” added Rupo’s office.

“The Federal Government will support all initiatives taken by regional, provinicial and community authorities to that effect.”