Belgium's biggest mass redundancy: Up to 1,850 people expected to lose job

Belgium's biggest mass redundancy: Up to 1,850 people expected to lose job
Workers arrive for an extraordinary works council at the Van Hool bus assembly plant in Koningshooikt. Credit: Belga/ Benoit Doppagne

Van Hool, the Belgian family-run bus manufacturer will reportedly be taken over, putting 1,600 jobs at risk. The announcement brings an end to an almost one-month-long wait to find out the fate of the company.

The company that is behind most buses built in Belgium, located in Koningshooikt (Antwerp province), announced last month that it was cutting 1,116 jobs over the next four years, the most significant layoff since Carrefour supermarket's dismissal of 1,233 employees in early 2018.

Bankruptcy was looming over the company for some time, driven by a lack of external financing, longstanding debts and strategic mismanagement.

On Monday morning, VRT NWS confirmed that the company will be taken over – which will lead to more jobs being lost than initially anticipated. Its sources confirmed that at least between 1,550 and 1,850 people will lose their jobs at Van Hool out of a workforce of 2,500, making it one of the biggest mass redundancies ever in Belgium. The Flemish broadcaster also noted that the bus builder is said to have filed for bankruptcy as early as Friday last week.

Relief and disappointment

The announcement will be followed by a special works council at the company at 11:00. After this, employees will be told that the Dutch bus builder VDL and German trailer builder Schmitz Cargobull are taking over Van Hool and that they will retain fewer employees than originally envisaged.

Initially, all employees will be laid off. The German and the Dutch players would then like to build a new facility in Belgium, with Schmitz expected to employ about 350 people in the future, and VDL 300 to 600.

Employees had hoped for clarity last week, but management bought extra time to negotiate with potential buyers. Christophe Van Audenhove of the liberal trade union ACLVB noted that the employees have known for some time that they can only get bad news.

"Some will be relieved by the fact that they will still have some guarantees into the future, but I think disappointment will prevail."

Related News

Copyright © 2024 The Brussels Times. All Rights Reserved.