The job losses are a massive blow to the economy in the South of West Flanders Province. Bekaert speaks of 70 job losses at Moen, outside Zwevegem, a further 44 in Zwevegem itself, plus 106 in Deerlijk and 61 in Ingelmuntser. For Christian trades unionist Karel Hoorelbeke the closure of Moen does not come as a surprise. Workers have been living with uncertainty for months.
Moen produces steel wire used to reinforce concrete. Given international competition the Moen plant can't keep its prices competitive. Bekaert notes that competitors have switched production to eastern Europe or are purchasing raw materials in low wage economies.
The company says it wants to sharpen its competitive edge and increase the speed and capacity with which it responds to the needs of its clients. It has been struggling to pass on higher prices for raw materials and the trade war between the US and China and Brexit uncertainty haven't helped.
Bekaert employs 1,900 in Belgium and has a worldwide workforce of 29,000.