2,000 jobs under threat at Caterpillar in Belgium

2,000 jobs under threat at Caterpillar in Belgium
By Catherine Hardy with AFP
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World's largest maker of heavy machinery begins consultation process that could lead to closure of plant in Charleroi.

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Heavy machinery maker Caterpillar Inc says it could lay off around 2,00 workers employed at its plant in Belgium.

The company manufactures heavy plant machinery at the plant at Gosselies.

A union representative has told the AFP news agency that the US company has launched a consultation process that will probably result in the closure of the site in the suburbs of Charleroi.

The news became public after union representatives left a meeting at the plant at Gosselies on Thursday morning.

Solidariteit caterpilar#gosselies pic.twitter.com/6ECTucZ0A3

— Karel Geraerts (@karel_geraerts) September 2, 2016

Has the company said anything publicly?

Not much so far.

In a statement, Caterpillar has said it is considering re-allocating its manufacturing to other sites, mainly Grenoble in France and others outside Europe.

This implies the 2,000 workers at Charleroi will be made redundant and the site closed.

Caterpillar says it may lay off 2,000 workers at Belgium plant https://t.co/qeAx7e0o6wpic.twitter.com/a2yiSLDro8

— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) September 2, 2016

“Global restructuring and cost reduction plan”

The statement says the decision comes as part of Caterpillar’s “global plan of restructuring and cost reduction announced in September, 2015”.

In September 2015, Caterpillar said it will cut as many as 10,000 jobs by 2018. 20 plants may be closed or consolidated around the world.

Around 1,400 jobs had already been cut at Charleroi in 2013.

#Breaking#alerte#Caterpillar: fermeture complète du site de #Gosselies où travaillent 2200 personnes https://t.co/39gUI9CVez

— RTBF info (@RTBFinfo) September 2, 2016

Difficult economic situation

Caterpillar is the world’s largest manufacturer of heavy construction equipment.

It has been hit by the crisis in the mining sector and the global economic downturn.

Year-on-year profits were down in July but the company insisted its restructuring plan was bearing fruit.

#Caterpillar Gosselies, une usine rentable https://t.co/HONiSltvYRpic.twitter.com/zLZ3CdRQ3n

— Le Soir (@lesoir) September 2, 2016

The post-Brexit effect?

In July, Caterpillar said that global uncertainty, the vote in Britain to leave the EU and the attempted coup in Turkey had heightened risks, especially in Europe.

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