Ford Closes Factory Causing 4,300 Job Losses
Ford has confirmed it will close its "under-utilised" factory in Genk, Belgium, resulting in 4,300 job losses, as it attempts to deal with a slump in demand across Europe.
Hundreds of employees gathered outside the gates of the plant, as the US car maker said it would end production in the town in 2014.
"Ford announced its plans to end production at a major production plant in Genk, Belgium, by the end of 2014," the company said in a statement, adding that the closure would entail a "reduction of approximately 4,300 positions".
Ford of Europe's chief executive Stephen Odell added: "The proposed restructuring of our European manufacturing operations is a fundamental part of our plan to strengthen Ford's business in Europe."
Production of the company's new Mondeo, S-Max and Galaxy models will be transferred to Valencia, Spain, in a move that could see a further 5,000 subcontractors lose their jobs.
Union representative Johan Lamers said: "This is taking us by surprise and is an extremely bitter pill."
The development comes after the French government offered Peugeot Citroen a 7bn euro (£5.6bn) lifeline following another drop in sales.
The Paris-based company said it was also close to agreeing a 11.5bn euro (£9.3bn) refinancing deal with creditor banks, in addition to the state guarantees, for its lending arm Banque PSA Finance.
Following the announcement, Peugeot shares fell 6.5% - hitting their lowest levels since 1986.
Car sales in Europe have slumped as consumers in the region find their budgets hit by unemployment and government austerity.
Earlier this month, industry figures revealed that the market shrank at its fastest pace for 12 months in September.