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Caterpillar considers closing Belgian site, laying off 2,000

Associated Press Associated Press 2/09/2016
FILE - This Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013 file photo, heavy equipment is parked at the site of Caterpillar Belgium, in Gosselies, Belgium. US. Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar said Friday, Sept. 2, 2016 that it may close a Belgian manufacturing site and lay off about 2,000 employees, an announcement met by the Belgian government and company employees with dismay and alarm. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe, File) © The Associated Press FILE - This Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013 file photo, heavy equipment is parked at the site of Caterpillar Belgium, in Gosselies, Belgium. US. Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar said Friday, Sept. 2, 2016 that it may close a Belgian manufacturing site and lay off about 2,000 employees, an announcement met by the Belgian government and company employees with dismay and alarm. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe, File)

BRUSSELS — U.S. heavy equipment maker Caterpillar said Friday it may close a Belgian manufacturing site and lay off about 2,000 workers, an announcement met with dismay and alarm by employees and the government.

In a post on its corporate website, Caterpillar said that in line with its September 2015 global restructuring plan, it was considering shifting production of construction equipment now at its Gosselies site to Grenoble, France, and other facilities outside Europe.

"If this intention would be confirmed, it would result in a collective layoff of about 2,000 employees and in the closure of the Gosselies site," the company said.

Prime Minister Charles Michel and Economy Minister Kris Peeters were expected to attend an emergency meeting with leaders of the Wallonia regional government, home to the Gosselies site. Paul Magnette, leader of the regional government, sought meetings with unions and company management.

Magnette told local media Friday he was scandalized by Caterpillar's announcement since the Gosselies site had been given government financial support.

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