[BRUSSELS] Caterpillar said Friday it is considering closing its plant in Belgium and making 2,000 workers redundant as the US heavy equipment maker plans global job cuts amid lower demand.
The firm, famed for its iconic yellow diggers, said it is "contemplating" moving production from its sole plant in Gosselies, Belgium to one in Grenoble, France and other manufucturing sites outside Europe.
"If this intention would be confirmed, it would result in a collective lay-off of about 2,000 employees and in the closure of the Gosselies site," Caterpilllar said on its website.
Antonio Cocciolo, an official for the FGTB union, expressed "total disgust" when he told AFP that an American official speaking in English effectively announced the "complete closure of the site" in the French-speaking area of Belgium.
Some 1,300 jobs were already cut in 2013 at the plant near Charleroi airport, south of the Belgian capital Brussels.
In another statement on Thursday, Caterpillar said it was also considering closing its Monkstown facility as part of restructuring in Northern Ireland that could result in the loss of up to 250 jobs.
The company is also mulling stopping production of 25-tonne and larger material handlers in Northern Ireland, including the planned launch of large material handler models for Europe.
In July, Caterpillar said it planned additional job cuts in the second half of 2016 as sluggish conditions in energy and mining weighed on second-quarter earnings.
Caterpillar, which manufactures industrial equipment for energy, mining and construction companies, said it expects higher costs due to restructuring and job cuts as it cited global economic uncertainty due in part to political upheaval in Turkey and Britain.
Net income fell 31 per cent to US$550 million. Revenue fell 16 per cent to US$10.3 billion.
Sales dropped in all three of Caterpillar's industrial businesses. Caterpillar acknowledged that oil prices have risen in 2016, but said the jump has not sparked major new investment.