Belgian Bus Manufacturer Van Hool Faces Takeover, 1,600 Jobs at Risk

In a critical turn of events for Belgian industry, the fate of Van Hool, the renowned family-run bus manufacturer, has finally been sealed. Following a month-long period of uncertainty, the company’s future hangs in the balance as news of a takeover emerges, putting a staggering 1,600 jobs at risk.

Located in Koningshooikt, within the Antwerp province, Van Hool stands as a cornerstone of Belgian manufacturing, responsible for crafting the majority of buses seen traversing the country’s roads. However, recent financial woes have cast a shadow over its operations, culminating in a dire announcement last month.

Amidst a backdrop of mounting debts, strategic mismanagement, and a dearth of external financing, Van Hool’s management reluctantly unveiled plans to slash 1,116 jobs over the next four years.

This marked the most significant layoff in Belgium since Carrefour’s supermarket downsizing in early 2018, signalling a distressing downturn in the nation’s industrial landscape.

Now, with bankruptcy looming ominously over Van Hool, the beleaguered company faces an even bleaker reality. Reports from VRT NWS confirm that a takeover is imminent, spelling further devastation for the company’s workforce.

Sources indicate that between 1,550 and 1,850 individuals will be rendered jobless out of a total workforce of 2,500, catapulting this event to one of Belgium’s most significant mass redundancies in recent memory.

The details of the takeover reveal a bittersweet narrative for Van Hool’s employees. Dutch bus builder VDL and German trailer manufacturer Schmitz Cargobull are set to assume control, promising a semblance of continuity but with a stark reduction in staffing levels.

Initially, all employees will face layoffs as the new owners chart a path forward that aims to establish a new facility within Belgium’s borders.

Despite assurances of future employment, the projected numbers paint a grim picture. Schmitz Cargobull anticipates hiring approximately 350 individuals, while VDL plans to absorb a workforce ranging from 300 to 600 employees.

For those grappling with the uncertainty of their livelihoods, the promises of a new beginning offer little solace. Christophe Van Audenhove, representing the liberal trade union ACLVB, captures the prevailing sentiment among Van Hool’s workforce.

While some may find relief in the prospect of retained employment, disappointment looms large. The prolonged period of ambiguity has bred a sense of resignation, with employees bracing themselves for the inevitable wave of unfavourable news.

The announcement of the takeover will be met with a special works council convened at Van Hool headquarters, marking a pivotal moment for its employees. As they come to terms with the harsh realities of an industry in flux, the road ahead remains fraught with uncertainty.

In the annals of Belgian manufacturing, Van Hool’s struggles serve as a sobering reminder of the fragility inherent in even the most stalwart of institutions.

As the dust settles on this tumultuous chapter, the echoes of lost livelihoods reverberate throughout the nation, underscoring the urgent need for resilience and renewal in the face of adversity.


This article was created using automation and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members

Hot Topics

Related Articles

Translate »