Ford restarts production at Genk plant after workers’ protest ended image

Ford restarted production at its plant in Genk, Belgium, after a blockade by workers over plans to close the site ended.

“We are pleased to be building and shipping vehicles again and are working to get the factory quickly up to full production,” Adrian Schmitz, a Ford Europe spokesman was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

An agreement between Ford and unions approved by workers earlier this month had failed to restart production after protesters blocked an adjacent supplier area. The dispute included union leaders being confined in a conference room last week after demonstrators disrupted a meeting with plant suppliers.

Before this week, Ford hadn’t shipped a vehicle from Genk since the October 24 announcement that the plant will shut down in 2014, as walkouts compounded the effects of scheduled suspensions. The decision to close the plant is part of Ford’s efforts to end losses in Europe that may exceed $1.5 billion a year in 2012 and 2013.

According to unions, the agreement with Genk labor leaders, which outlines extra money paid to workers for meeting production targets, was slated to allow Ford to restart production January 9 and increase output to 1,000 vehicles a day. The plant builds the Mondeo sedan and the S-Max and Galaxy minivans.