Workers at GM’s Opel plant in Antwerp, Belgium, have gone on strike (Thursday 26 April) in protest at plans to lay off 1,400 workers. The planned workforce reduction follows the decision not to make the next Astra at the plant.

Unions and management met yesterday (Wednesday 25 April) to discuss what might be built at the plant, but the talks ended without agreement.

The next generation of the Astra will be built at plants in Germany, Sweden, Poland and Britain from 2010, leaving Antwerp on phase-out production of the current model and struggling to find product to fill the gap. Around 200,000 Astras are produced each year in Antwerp.

The company said it would like to shift Antwerp’s production to building 80,000 Chevrolet model cars, and possibly the production of another unspecified 60,000 cars of another model.

Unions, however, said they would demand higher production quotas to save jobs at the plant and plan to continue their strike until next Thursday when GM’s European management visits the plant to discuss the restructuring.

See also: GERMANY: Negotiations over Opel Antwerp fail to progress