Belgium: Closure of Opel requires bold solidarity action and campaign for nationalisation

General Motors have announced the closure of their Opel plant in Antwerp, involving 2600 job losses. The workers have responded by blockading the plant and stopping the removal of the stock of cars already produced and ready for dispatch. They need your solidarity!

January 21 was the day chosen by General Motors to announce the closure of the Opel plant in Antwerp. "The company is running out of time. Every month more money is being burned," Works Council chairman Klaus Franz said on the day of the announcement. The decision means a loss of 2,600 jobs in Antwerp. The workers then decided to face up to the bosses’ decision. They have a different opinion: Opel must remain open. With this aim in mind, every Saturday at 2.30pm, the picket of the Opel workers is reinforced with a large group of people in solidarity. The workers have seized the cars that have been produced and there are already 5000 under their control. They are demanding negotiations with the management of General Motors to avoid the closure.

Photo by Victoria Deluxe.Photo by Victoria Deluxe. The campaign runs seven days a week, round the clock, and the car lots around the plant are being monitored by teams of both unions (ACV and ABVV). During the week they get a lot of support from other companies and at the weekend solidarity action is organised because morale is an important element in this kind of struggle. In addition to these efforts, the Support Group has called on Michael Moore, the filmmaker of Capitalism, a Love Story to come to Antwerp to give publicity to the action. Members of Vonk and Unite Socialiste have launched a joint campaign together with other activists to collect signatures for the creation of a wide front in support of nationalisation of the factory. We call on all trade union activists to sign the appeal to support the struggle of the Opel workers.

The mood in Belgium

Photo by Victoria Deluxe.Photo by Victoria Deluxe. A petition launched by Erik De Bruyn (SP.a Rood), former mayor Bob Cools (SP.a) and people from the cultural world, including stand-up comedian Nigel Williams, theatre director Ruud De Ridder, film director Stijn Conincx, author Tom Lanoye and actor Pieter Embrechts, [For the full list of signatories see was taken up by De Morgen, a daily newspaper. They ran an online poll about nationalisation, asking if the proposal made by the left of the SP.a (SP.a Rood) for nationalisation was a good idea and 44% actually replied that it was a good idea! And this is without any previous campaign. This shows that a serious campaign to mobilise workers can create enough pressure to open up a debate about nationalisation in the country.

Read and sign the call for nationalization under workers' control:

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