Opel workers in the Belgian city of Antwerp have downed tools and blockaded the car plant in response to the GM announcement that the factory is to close with the loss of 2,600 jobs.
GM has been hinting for weeks that Antwerp was in jeopardy as the carmaker looks to axe 8,000 jobs across Europe.
Trade unionist Chantal Decraie is dismayed by the decision:
“Belgium is far too small to handover billions of euros unlike Germany, which is a big rich country. Honesty and humanity have gone missing,” Decraie said.
General Motors lost 63 billion euros between 2005 and 2008 and filed for bankruptcy. But it was bailed out by the US government and pledged to restructure.
Antwerp looks set to be the only closure but 4,000 jobs are set to go in Germany.
Guler Turan is from the Flemish Socialist Party and believes the Antwerp workforce has been let down, saying:
“The Antwerp plant was very competitive and the European Commission must launch an investigation to see how this decision was reached because we don’t understand it.”
GM says its losing money and has to act quickly to stop it.
Reporting from Antwerp, Euronews correspondent Sergio Cantone says the frustration in Antwerp comes in part from a lack of clarity in policy coming from Brussels:
“The death sentence handed to Opel Antwerp is symbolic of the crisis of the industry in Europe. And the EU is finding it difficult to keep member states in line over the single market and state aid rules. Here Opel workers are asking why is their factory to go when others stay open.”