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Victory at Visteon!

600 Visteon car plant workers have won a dramatic victory over Ford Motor Company, after occupying and picketing their factories, and appealing to other workers for solidarity.

Visteon, a car components manufacturer, was spun out of Fords in 2000, as a way of cutting costs at the expense of the workforce. Then, on March 30th came the ultimate cost saving – all of the workers were sacked with six minutes notice. They were not to be paid for their last weeks’ work, they would get only statutory redundancy payments and lose their pensions.

Workers in Enfield and Basildon left the factories in shock, but thankfully in Belfast the workers had seen the Waterford Glass occupation, and they took over their factory. Soon the mobile phones were humming, and the other two factories occupied the next day. Basildon left again that evening after the police threatened to arrest them. However they mounted 24 hour pickets to stop any of the machines being moved.

Visteon workers occupying the Enfield factory

Enfield stayed in for nine day, and were eventually persuaded by union officials to leave, after court injunctions were issued. They too mounted 24 hour pickets.

In Belfast, where community support was higher, the state stood back and the factory stayed occupied for 4 weeks!

Most of these workers were still on Ford contracts, yet Ford washed their hands of them, saying “Ford is not in a position to fund insolvent suppliers”.

However the workers pushed outwards, and spoke at meetings and conferences throughout the Britain and Ireland, raising tens of thousands of pounds in solidarity. They also picketed Ford showrooms, and visited Ford factories.

The breakthrough came when they learned that Ford Bridgend, which makes engines for all Fiesta production across Europe were back on full production. Bridgend stewards told Visteon stewards that if they sent pickets from all three sites, the Ford workers would respect the pickets & not cross the lines! This threat broke Ford’s resistances, and they suddenly found £20 million to fund redundancy payments of around £35000 each for the Visteon workers.

Of course it would have been better if they had saved their jobs, but it is still a stunning victory, especially as most of the action, including the threat of stopping Bridgend was illegal!

Visteon have shown that in 2009, despite the depression, anti-union laws, and union leaders fear of the law, WORKERS CAN STILL FIGHT & WIN.

Workers in Plymouth need to look to Visteon for inspiration, to start to fight to save jobs and make sure that we don’t pay for the bosses crisis.


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