“Peter Hulsmans had worked for Ford in the industrial Belgian town of Genk for 26 years. So when company executives summoned him and his 4,300 colleagues to a meeting on a rare blue-skied October day in eastern Flanders, he knew it would not be good news.
He expected a minor tremor, maybe a few job cuts. What he got was an earthquake: the US car maker, which laid its first brick at the facility in 1962, was shutting the plant down.
“We always thought that there was more security working for a multinational than a small company but we were wrong,” says Mr Hulsmans, standing next to the charred wreckage of a Ford Mondeo set alight by protesting workers outside the plant’s gate. “Ford is going and nobody will replace them … nobody wants to invest here any more.””