Opel Workers Protest Against Potential Antwerp Closure

Rumors hinting to a potential closure of Opel's Belgian plant in Antwerp are doing no good to Magna International, the new owner of the German brand. After Opel workers across Europe have already marched against the company's prepared job cuts, approximately 3,000 employees and union leaders from several European countries protested on Wednesday in Belgium against the shut down of the Antwerp factory.

According to a report by Reuters, more than 20 coaches brought workers from Germany but union officials from the UK, Spain, Poland, Austria, Hungary and Netherlands attended as well. Most protesters were wearing yellow T-shirts with the "Wir sind Opel" (We are Opel) motto printed on the front, while a large banner was reading "Europe without Opel-Saab-Vauxhall would be like a car without an engine."

"We're not prepared to accept plant closures anywhere in Europe," said John Fetherston, union representative for Ellesmere Port, a Vauxhall production facility that could face job cuts under Magna ownership. "We are here to show our solidarity with our Antwerp colleagues. If we do not fight it could be Bochum, Luton or Zaragoza tomorrow," Peter Scherrer, general secretary of the European Metalworkers' Federation, added.

On the other hand, Opel union boss Klaus Franz said he hopes to reach an agreement with union leaders as quick as possible, as the two companies, GM and Magna, are planning to close the Opel deal in October.

"We all see the need for restructuring and capacity adjustments, but every job has a face that goes along with it and we want to do this in a socially acceptable way -- no plant closures and no forced layoffs," he said. "Opel's labor appeals to each European country not to encumber the talks with nationalistic interests."
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
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Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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