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GM shuts Opel plant in Belgium

GM shuts Opel plant in Belgium
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American car maker General Motors has announced that its Opel plant in Antwerp, Belgium is to close in June this year.

Some 2,600 jobs will go at the site which makes the popular Astra model.

Amid slumping demand for new cars, GM is keen to cut labour and production costs.

Outside the factory gates, employees appeared resigned to their fate as the move ends months of speculation about the factory’s future.

“We are fairly apathetic really,” said one Opel worker. “It has been such a long time since GM decided this, but they never told it to us straight. We felt for ages this would happen.”

GM emerged from bankruptcy in the US last year and is now restructuring its European operations.

In Europe, it plans to wind down or sell its Swedish brand Saab. The company also wants to to slash 8,300 jobs and cut production capacity by one fifth.

The regional government of Flanders is set to hold meetings with GM in a last-ditch bid to save the Antwerp plant.

Officials have offered 500 million euros in loan guarantees and a sale and leaseback deal to keep the site open.

But if those talks fail, GM’s Belgian production line will grind to a halt for good this summer.