2,300 jobs go at Belgium GM factory
Published 21/01/2010 | 12:26
General Motors has said it would close its Opel plant in Belgium with the loss of more than 2,300 jobs.
Workers in Antwerp had occupied the factory's car park in protest at the possible job losses since Wednesday.
The fate of the plant has been uncertain for some time. When General Motors planned to sell its European car making unit to Canada's Magna and Russia's Sberbank last year, the bidders said they would close it. GM later decided not to sell its European business.
German media said that most of Antwerp's Astra production will be transferred to the plant in Bochum.
Opel said in 2007 that it would stop making the Astra at Antwerp and would possibly replace it with midsize Chevrolet models or sport utility vehicles - heavy vehicles that now find fewer buyers.
The plant, which opened in 1929, has already shrunk from employing 7,000 workers at its peak to around a third of that today.
"This is not an easy decision," Opel chief executive Nick Reilly said."It is the tough reality of the current business environment."
He added that the company did not expect that the car market would return "to its former high capacity in the near future."