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Ford Restarts Genk Production After Parts Blockade Ends

Ford Motor Co. restarted production at its factory in Genk, Belgium, after a blockade by workers over plans to shut 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,” said Adrian Schmitz, a spokesman for the carmaker’s European operations in Cologne, Germany.

An agreement between Ford and unions approved by workers earlier this month had failed to result in a resumption of auto assembly 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 Ford suppliers.

Before this week, Ford hadn’t shipped a vehicle from Genk since saying Oct. 24 that the plant will shut for good in 2014, as walkouts compounded the effects of scheduled suspensions. The permanent shutdown is part of an effort to end losses in Europe that may exceed $1.5 billion a year in 2012 and 2013.

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 Jan. 9 and ramp up output to 1,000 vehicles a day at the factory, according to unions. The factory builds the Mondeo mid-sized sedan and the S-Max and Galaxy minivans.

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