A total catastrophe for workers – Volkswagen is to cut 4,000 jobs at its plant in Brussels, said a Belgian union official. The German carmaker has announced it is going to stop building the Golf in Brussels, although the Polo will still be made there. “This is a catastrophe,” said one union representative. “It’s going to affect around 4,000 people, about 500 administrative positions and 3,500 factory workers.”
Volkswagen has pledged to be “sparing” with job cuts in Brussels, but it is estimated that no more than 1,500 people are needed to make the Polo. VW employs just under 5,000 at the Brussels factory. It says its European factories are not working to full capacity and carmakers are facing difficult times as competition continues to grow and the cost of raw materials rises.
Brussels was the only Western European plant outside Germany to make the Golf, VW’s best-selling compact model. Just the Polo is in production in Spain, whereas in Portugal some 2,700 employees manufacture the Sharan and the Eos. The Golf will now be only made at two plants in Western Europe – Mosel and Wolfsburg in Germany.
“The future is very bleak,” says one employee. “Because there will only be 1,500 workers, not really enough for production. This factory – which was designed to make two models, will soon shut, I’m sure.” Many others echo his fear that this a first step towards total closure as the plant makes more than 200,000 cars a year – of which just 11,000 are Polos.