GM Concludes Deal To Save Antwerp Factory

Factory will produce two new models

General Motors on May 8 confirmed that it has reached a deal with trade unions that will keep its troubled factory in Antwerp in business. The company's Opel plant in the Belgian city will, over the next two years, produce two new automobile models destined for the European market, according to the agreement reached between GM Europe and trade union bosses.

The company said in a statement that, after the implementation of planned job cuts, the factory would produce up to 120,000 cars a year. This amounts to roughly half its current output of between 220,000 and 250,000 cars a year.

Workers had feared that production would be slashed to 80,000 cars after GM last month announced plans to axe 1,400 jobs at the factory as part of a shake-up of production for the next generation of the group's Opel Astra model.

The company cited a lack of demand as the reason for its plans.

The head of GM Europe's works committee, Klaus Franz, said the company had assigned the production of two new models to the factory to allow it to maintain a satisfactory output level. "First we achieved our first objective of avoiding the closure of the factory and then we went one step further and allocated the production of these two models," he said.

GM workers in Antwerp last week downed tools in protest at the job cuts.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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