The European Metalworkers' Federation (EMF) has warned Opel's management that it faces widespread industrial action if the planned closure of the company's Antwerp plant goes ahead later this year with the loss of 2,600 jobs.

"A strike is the last resort, but management has to realise that we will undertake all manner of (industrial) action - and that can include strikes," said Peter Scherrer of the EMF.

"There will be neither sacrifice nor concession by the unions, by the workers at other plants, if the decision is not overturned," Scherrer said in Antwerp after a meeting that included Austrian, British, German, Hungarian, Polish and Spanish unions.

Scherrer said workers at other GM Europe plants had agreed not to fill in for Antwerp workers during any stoppage.

"We make the GM management aware of a long history of European solidarity in common action," read a joint declaration by labour movements representing workers at Opel and Vauxhall. "This will be exercised if necessary."

Separately, Nick Reilly, CEO of Opel and Vauxhall, told reporters outside Opel's Russelsheim headquarters on Tuesday he wanted labour leaders to agree its restructuring plan, which envisages 8,300 job cuts, by mid-February. Even after the closure of Antwerp, Opel and Vauxhall have 1.5m annual capacity without overtime or productivity improvements. Even if there is a strong recovery in demand, that level of capacity is too high.

"There is a hiatus in the talks because of [the closure of] Antwerp, but next Monday we will have our first meeting," Reilly added.

Reilly has requested EUR2.7bn in state aid either as loans or loan guarantees from the governments where Opel and Vauxhall have factories with the exception of Belgium.

"Maybe we will not get the full 2.7bn but I do expect we will receive a significant amount," he added.

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