Workers' legal action over plans to downsize GE Wind's Dutch blade plant

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Workers at GE Wind's blade plant in Almelo in the Netherlands are taking legal action in an attempt to force the American turbine manufacturer to rethink plans to downsize the facility. Following a fire at the blade premises in December 2003, GE Energy announced that rather than rebuild, it intended to stop blade manufacture in Almelo and instead use the facility for research, product development and maintenance, reducing the 220 strong workforce to 33. The workers had proposed a strategy that would see substantially more staff retained. They are now asking the industrial section of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal to support that strategy. Furthermore, they claim GE Energy has failed to agree a redundancy package. For GE, Andreas Wagner says: "We only took the decision to stop manufacturing after long and careful consideration of all the options." The size and accessibility of the Almelo site places limits on its potential for the manufacture of blades for multi megawatt machines. The manufacturing capacity lost at Almelo will be picked up by the GE plant in Florida and some of the blade work will be out-sourced, says Wagner. GE has since contracted LM Glasfiber for supply.

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