Fokker’s plans to close and relocate two factories angers workers

Fokker's main campus in Papendrecht. Photo: ANP/HH/ Richard van Hoek
Fokker’s main campus in Papendrecht. Photo: ANP/HH/ Richard van Hoek

Aerospace company Fokker is to close its two factories in Helmond and Hoogerheide and centralise its operations in Papendrecht.

Unions have criticised the plans, which were announced to staff on Friday, and said they will take action if they are unable to agree terms with parent company GKN.

No jobs will be lost under the restructuring but staff face having to relocate up to 100 km when the plants close over the next two years.

British-based GKN plans to expand the campus in Papendrecht, near Rotterdam, to make space for 1,800 workers. But the FNV union questioned how many employees would be prepared to make the move.

Jan Meeder, an official with FNV Metaal, said: ‘People aren’t happy and that’s an understatement. They are angry that this is happening. If you’re used to cycling to work or a short car journey and that changes, it’s not attractive.’

Council investment

Around 350 people work at the Helmond factory, which is scheduled to close this year, including 100 temporary workers. The Hoogerheide plant, where 800 people including 300 agency workers are employed, is due to shut in 2023.

Papendrecht municipal council last year agreed to invest €16 mn, €12 mn of it in loans, in the development of Fokker’s campus to attract more jobs to the area.

Meeder said employees who agreed to relocate needed to be adequately compensated for the extra cost of time and travel.

The union is meeting workers at the factories on Wednesday to discuss the next steps. ‘After that we will negotiate with the company directors,’ said Meeder. ‘If that turns into a fiasco you can expect further action.’

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