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GM Workers In Europe Strike Over Job Losses In Belgium

Protesting 1,400 job cuts at Opel plant

General Motors workers were on strike May 3 in several European countries to protest against more than 1,400 job cuts planned at its Opel plant in Antwerp, a union official said.

General Motors announced plans last month to axe 1,400 jobs at its factory in Antwerp, Belgium, as part of a shake-up of production for the next generation of the group's Opel Astra model from 2010. In a statement from GM's German subsidiary Opel in Frankfurt on April 17, GM Europe said that it would stop producing the Astra model in Antwerp after 2010. The new generation of Astra models would be built at four European sites -- Bochum in Germany, Ellesmere Port in Britain, Trollhattan in Sweden and Gliwice in Poland.

In support of their Antwerp colleagues who have been striking for the last week, GM Europe workers also decided to down tools, the secretary general of the European Metalworkers Federation Peter Scherrer said.

In Germany a spokesman for the IG Metall union said all sites there -- mainly Opel factories -- were taking action, stopping work for three hours. In the Frankfurt suburb of Russelheim, for example, 4,000 workers protested May 3 morning in front of the gates of the main Opel site.

GM employs 60,000 workers in Europe at plants making Opel, Saab and Vauxhall marques in Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Spain and Sweden.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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