[Marxism] Viserton Belfast occupation spreads, two plants in England taken over

Stuart Munckton stuartmunckton at gmail.com
Thu Apr 2 17:05:23 MDT 2009

Visteon workers occupy!  [image:
  By Socialist Appeal
  Wednesday, 01 April 2009
  Visteon workers in  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 Raytheon were a going

No flies on Raytheon 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 Raytheon that they have

Over and over again Ford management swore blind that the creation of
Raytheon 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 Raytheon
have always delivered. Putting Raytheon 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

"The free market is perfectly natural... do you think I am some kind of
dummy?" — Jarvis Cocker

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" — Oscar Wilde

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