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Belgium's GM Opel plant set for weekend restart

From Reuters| June 18,2007

Production at General Motors' Opel plant in Antwerp was set to restart over the weekend, union officials said today. A strike began on Wednesday and the production line was not operating today after management failed to reassure workers over the future of the plant.

A union official said maintenance employees would resume work for the shift starting tonight with a view to reaching full production by Sunday.

"We have a meeting with management early tomorrow. The workers want clarification," he said.

Some 2,200 jobs, including those of temporary workers, are set to be cut at the plant, the company said at the end of May, far more than originally envisioned.

GM Europe announced in April that 1,400 jobs, about a third of the workforce, would be axed this year as demand for Opel's top-selling Astra declined. The company does not plan to build the next generation Astra in Belgium.

Workers went on strike shortly after that announcement but narrowly voted in May to return to work after the company offered to produce two new vehicles there, with production of some 120,000 vehicles.

The Belgian plant had been producing about 220,000 Astras.

GM's decision not to produce the next generation Astra in Belgium was another blow to the country's auto industry after Volkswagen AG'S decision last year to reduce the workforce at its factory in Brussels.

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