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17:20 | 2012-11-12


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Thousands of People March in Belgium against Ford Cuts

TEHRAN (FNA)- Thousands of protestors took to the streets in a mass demonstration against Ford cuts across Europe.

Up to 20,000 have protested in the Belgian city of Genk against the motor giant's cost cutting plans.

They include shutting the Southampton transit factory next July with the loss of 500 jobs and shutting its huge plant in Genk which employs 4,300 workers, Newsquest Media Group reported.

Workers from the threatened plant, their families, children and supporters marched in a noisy and colorful parade to show their anger at Ford bosses.

William de Witte, 64, from the ABVV socialist union said workers had come together to show solidarity.

"The people here feel very angry and betrayed by Ford," he said.

City mayor Wim Dries said Ford bosses had "taken away the pride" of workers and left them feeling angry, disappointed and uncertain of the future.

He said the march, backed by the council, was important to give residents a chance to show their feelings.

It was also to send a signal that the city and region will come together for a future without Ford, he added.

Ford's Genk plant, like Southampton, was given assurances about its future before the motor giant made the bombshell announcement that both are to close to slash costs amid falling European car sales.

A group of workers from Southampton were hopeful of joining the demonstration.

Andy Cox, Unite's deputy convener at the Southampton Transit plant in Swaythling, said, "We support our fellow colleagues abroad. We can understand what they are going through."

He said a mass meeting of Southampton Ford workers was planned for the end of next week to decide what action to take. Strike action has not been ruled out.

About 170 protesters went on the rampage outside a Ford plant in Cologne, Germany on Wednesday during a meeting between management and Ford's European Works Council, which includes representatives from Unite.

Belgian unions have called the proposed Genk plant closure "treason" and a "betrayal of promises made to workers" of new models and of their efforts to boost productivity to secure their jobs.

Ford now plans to move production of the new model Ford Mondeos, S-Max and Galaxy's to Valencia Spain.

The council in Genk estimates up to 10,000 jobs, including direct and indirect suppliers in the region's motor industry, will be affected by the plant closure.

The regional economy has already suffered from the GM closure of Opel's plant in nearby Antwerp in 2010.

Ford unveiled its plans to close three factories, including Southampton, Dagenham and Genk, with the loss of 6,200 jobs to stem forecast losses of £1.8billion over the next two years.

And the company last week warned it may need to make more cutbacks - possibly dropping factory shifts or closing a plant.