Potential buyers still sought for Fords Genk site in Eastern Belgium

Potential buyers still sought for Ford's Genk site in Eastern Belgium

Ford says it remains committed to finding a viable future for the Genk site in Eastern Belgium, slated to close in two weeks, while rumours continue to circulate surrounding a possible Punch Metals interest in the plant.

The closure will create an immediate 4,300 redundancies, plus the possibility of many more as the trickle-down effects filter through the supply chain.

Ford recently stopped Mondeo output as its Valencia plant increases production with the redesigned version and by the end of this year, the Spanish site will start the replacement for the S-Max.

There had been speculation Punch Metals could absorb around 200 stamping jobs at the Genk factory, but that trail appears to have gone somewhat cold, much to union frustration.

"This time last year, we signed an agreement with the Flemish government about the plant, which gave them exclusive marketing rights to the Ford Genk site," a Ford spokesman told just-auto.

"That was really consistent with [the] commitment to make our social responsibilities. The idea was it would provide a framework to secure a viable, industrial use for the site.

"That commitment is still there and the stakeholders [including unions] are still trying to find uses, especially industrial uses, for the site. Obviously, the stakeholders, led by the Flemish government, are still looking."

Early last year, Punch Metals International, a company of the industrial investor, Guido Dumarey, acquired General Motors' entire Strasbourg business, including the production plant, engineering centre and die casting operation, a move hailed by Belgian socialist union, ABVV, as what could happen to Genk.

"They [Punch] said they would invest to transform the press shop into a hot form shop and wanted to start at least 200 blue collars," ABVV regional president, Rohnny Champagne in Belgium told just-auto.

"Why don't they [politicians] force their colleagues to step into this offer? The only other option is unemployment.

"The guys [ABVV members] had hoped they would find some work, because quite frankly our guys...are probably the last in the row to find a job. I don't understand why a government has the pretension to think it is not solid employment.

"It is only 200 people, but with the possibility to grow in the future."

The Flemish and Federal Belgium governments were not immediately available for comment, while further details from Punch Metals were due to be revealed later.