Ford to Close Belgian Genk Plant, Cutting 4,300 Jobs

Ford to Close Belgian Genk Plant, Cutting 4,300 Jobs

"New vehicle sales in the region have reached a nearly 20-year low this year and are expected to remain flat or fall further next year."

Ford (IW 500/6) said on Wednesday that it will close its "under-utilized" factory in Genk, Belgium, by the end of 2014, with the loss of about 4,300 jobs.

"Ford announced its plans to end production at a major production plant in Genk, Belgium, by the end of 2014," Ford Europe said.

It said that the closure would entail a "reduction of approximately 4,300 positions."

The closure of the plant was part of an overall shake-up of Ford's European operations in the face of falling demand, the statement said.

The plan would "help to address manufacturing overcapacity stemming from a more-than-20% drop in total industry vehicle demand in western Europe since 2007," Ford explained.

"New vehicle sales in the region have reached a nearly 20-year low this year and are expected to remain flat or fall further next year."

Assembly of Ford's Mondeo, S-Max and Galaxy models would be transferred from Genk to Valencia in Spain, the firm said.

At the same time, "Pending further study, production of the C-MAX and Grand C-MAX compact multi-purpose vehicles could move from Valencia to Saarlouis, Germany, in 2014 under the proposed plan," the statement said.

Ford Europe Chief Executive Stephen Odell said the "proposed restructuring of our European manufacturing operations is a fundamental part of our plan to strengthen Ford's business in Europe and to return to profitable growth."

Ford Genk is the main employer in the Flemish region of Limbourg near the Dutch border and, when taking into account subcontractors, provides work for some 10,500 people.

"We understand the impact this potential action would have on our workforce in Genk, their families, our suppliers and the local communities," Odell said.

"We fully recognize and accept our social responsibilities in this difficult situation and, if the restructuring plan is confirmed, we will ensure that we put in place measures and support to lessen the impact for all employees affected," he said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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