Ford production at Belgium plant remains halted amid protests
Ford hasn't shipped a vehicle from Genk since Oct. 24.
BERLIN (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co.'s production at its factory in Genk, Belgium, remained halted as protests over plans to shut the site next year showed no sign of letup after three months of disruption.
An agreement between Ford and unions approved by workers a week ago failed to result in a resumption of auto assembly after protesters blocked an adjacent supplier area, cutting off the flow of parts, said Ford of Europe spokesman Adrian Schmitz.
"We have an agreement with unions and are determined to implement that agreement to restart work at Genk," Schmitz said.
With the factory closed, Ford is seeking to meet vehicle demand from existing stocks, he said.
Ford hasn't shipped a vehicle from Genk since saying Oct. 24 that the plant will shut for good in 2014, Mark Truby, another Ford of Europe spokesman, said.
Worker walkouts compounded the effects of scheduled suspensions in carmaking because of a shrinking European market, Schmitz said. The permanent shutdown of the Genk plant is part of an effort to end losses in Europe that may exceed $1.5 billion a year in 2012 and 2013.
Ford also plans to shut a van plant in Southampton, England, this year along with a stamping facility in Dagenham, on the outskirts of London. The measures will lead to the loss of 6,200 jobs, or 13 percent of Ford's workforce in Europe.
The agreement with Genk labor leaders was slated to allow Ford restart production Jan. 9 and ramp up output to 1,000 vehicles a day at the factory, which builds the Mondeo mid-sized sedan and the S-Max and Galaxy minivans, according to unions.
The accord outlines extra money paid to workers in exchange for Ford building and shipping vehicles, spokesman Truby said. Ford is in separate talks with unions about terms for shuttering the site.
About 100 people, including employees of Ford suppliers, gathered outside the town hall in Genk on Thursday, preventing three regional union leaders from leaving for several hours, a spokeswoman for the city's police said.
The officials were there for meetings with representatives of four Ford suppliers. The mayor of Genk intervened and defused the situation without police action. No threats were made, the spokeswoman said.Contact Automotive News