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Opel Antwerp: “We’re not accepting closure”

Mr Peeters was speaking in a debate devoted to the plight of the ailing plant, whose closure was announced by last week.

The owners of the Antwerp Opel plant, the US carmaker General Motors, announced their intention to close the plant last Thursday.

Flemish lawmakers gathered in Brussels on Monday for a special debate to discuss GM’s announcement and the implications for the workforce of 2,600. If the ramifications for subcontractors are included, the death knell could now be sounding for 5,000 Flemish jobs.

Flemish Premier Peeters has asked all political parties to join forces to rescue the plant and jobs.

He made it clear that he didn’t want to offer false hope, but was unwilling to accept the plant closure just like that.

Mr Peeters lashed out at GM accusing the carmaker of going back on its promises and wanting to close a plant that was performing well.

Priority for management-union talks
The Flemish Premier insisted that the provisions of the Renault Law should be followed. This law was introduced after the decision by the French carmaker Renault to close its profit-making plant at Vilvoorde (Flemish Brabant).

Under the law all possible alternatives to closure must be explored first.

Mr Peeters said he was looking for a durable solution for the car assembly plant. He stressed the need for all parties and authorities to speak with one voice.

The Premier insisted that talks between the GM and the unions should now get top priority.

The Flemish Economy Minister, Philippe Muyters (nationalist), earlier made it clear that the 500 million euros that the Flemish Government put on the table to restructure the Opel plant, was still available as part of a package to secure employment and a future for the site.

Opposition parties accused the Christian democrat-socialist-nationalist administration of failing to work out an alternative for the site, as storm clouds gathered around Opel Antwerp’s future.