Genk closure talks between Ford of Europe and its unions are due to restart early next week despite the negotiation temperature stoked by management being blocked in their own offices.

The development follows similar scenes last month that saw fraught scenes as union leaders themselves were blockaded in a town hall for 11 hours by some supplier members expressing fears they would not be included in Ford's social plan for its own 4,300 workers slated to be made redundant.

However, the tactic was extended a few days ago as some of Ford's management were kept in a room in protest at what the ABVV union claims is a redundancy offer of EUR40,000 (US$53,000).

"Some 25 guys blocked the entrance of what they call the 'blue building' in Genk, so they [management] could not leave," ABVV union provincial president, Rohnny Champagne, told just-auto from Belgium. "It was all about the decision of Ford of Europe - the offer they made - the EUR40,000 they are willing to pay.

"It was too low for our guys and it felt [an] insult to everyone in the Genk plant. Thursday [14 February], it started to bubble and by the Friday morning...we have a lot of shouting and disruption going on."

A resulting stand-off appears to have ensued with workers only performing part of their shift, with the result "things started to escalate," according to Champagne and culminating in management being blockaded in their offices.

"I am a little bit worried about the direction this is going into," said Champagne. "The expectations and hopes of our guys [are] very simple.

"They want to match what General Motors and Volkswagen did. There is a very big gap and I don't know if we can cross it - it is a long way to go."

Some 4,300 jobs will go at the Genk plant itself with the possibility of up to 10,000 redundancies in total once the impact on the supply chain is taken into account.

Unions have cautioned unemployment could soar by as much as 30% in the region following the US automaker's decision to shutter its plant in 2014 and will come as a further blow to the Limburg region of Belgium, which suffered a series of coal mine closures in the 1980s.

Ford of Europe said it planned to meet its labour body next week in Belgium, but declined to comment on any compensation package it would offer to workers losing their jobs.

"There was a proposal for a social plan from the Ford management - that was rejected by the unions," a Ford of Europe spokesman told just-auto from Belgium. "There was action and chaos.

"You can imagine unions can communicate with their employees in a very fragmented way, not necessarily the whole picture. They made it impossible to leave the office during a few hours - that was resolved by discussion."

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