Visteon workers in Enfield and Basildon have joined with Belfast workers in occupying their plants. Management have put the firm into administration. Belfast workers have been defending their occupation by staying in overnight. The workers are taking action because they have to. They were just brutally kicked off the premises without any notice. If management get away with this, 600 workers at the three plants will be sacked and left on the minimum statutory redundancy pay. Statutory redundancy pay is paltry. Even workers with 30 years’ service are only entitled to £9,000 and most will get far less.
In Belfast John McGowan, shift leader at Visteon, said: “I’m just dumbstruck. I feel it’s totally unjust the way we’re being treated by the company. They have had redundancy packages in the past due to the downturn in sales.
“Last year they were offering redundancy packages of £30,000 minimum. Now they’re telling me for my 30 years loyalty to this company I’m getting a redundancy package which is capped at just over £9,000. That’s totally unjust and unfair.”
The background to the dispute is that Visteon was spun off from Ford as a scam to attack workers’ pay and conditions. Before incorporation in 2000 the plants were part of the Ford combine, making parts for the cars. The workers were on the normal Ford wages and conditions. The bosses’ idea was to uncouple workers’ pay at the component suppliers from those in the main plant. Visteon workers have consistently fought attempts to downgrade their labour since 2000, but now management says the firm is losing money.
Going into administration will also put the workers’ pensions in peril. The money will end up in the Pension Protection Fund, where it will in effect become a zombie fund, with no top-ups and guarantees to the workers and pensioners not honoured, as they would have to do if Visteon were a going concern.
No flies on Visteon management. They have setup a separate outfit called Visteon Engineering Services, which is in effect a life raft to carry their own pensions to safety away from the wreckage of Visteon that they have created.
Over and over again Ford management swore blind that the creation of Visteon was not just a device to enable them to dodge out of their obligations to the components’ workforce. Redundant Ford workers have always walked away with a decent package in the past. In 2000 Ford gave workers cast iron guarantees, which they have shamelessly broken.
The occupying workers are appealing to Ford workers for solidarity in the form of blacking alternative sources of supply for the components Visteon have always delivered. Putting Visteon into administration is a squalid manoeuvre to load the crisis in the motor industry onto the workers. But the workers are fighting back! We see the unity in action of Protestant and Catholic workers in Belfast, and of British and Irish workers across these islands.
Source: Socialist Appeal
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