Ford says it met its union representatives this morning to discuss the closure of the Genk plant, but that senior management have travelled directly to Brussels to see the Flanders President and Belgian Prime Minister.

It appears some Belgian unions expected to meet top level directors this morning, but were instead told the news of the plant closure through the local Works Council procedure.

"Obviously with senior management we have gone in a number of meetings in Brussels today with leading politicians," a Ford Europe spokesman told just-auto from Brussels. "Stephen Odell [Ford Europe chairman and CEO] is here - we did offer to meet the unions in Brussels today with the full management.

"The Works Council met with local Ford management, but the senior management went to Brussels. We are meeting Kris Peeters [Flanders President] first around now - we are seeing the Prime Minister [Elio di Rupo] later in the day.

Belgian sources watching events unfold say union leaders had expected to meet senior management, but Ford insists a normal Works Council meeting took place to inform unions of the plant closure, potentially involving 4,300 redundancies.

Pictures are also showing distraught employees outside the factory, while Ford says it has started an information and consultation process with union representatives.

Neither the Flanders government, Belgium's ABVV and ACV unions, or the Belgian supplier body, Agoria, was immediately available for comment.

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