Britain: Visteon workers demand green jobs

Issue 

After a British court threatened mass arrests, 200 sacked Ford Visteon workers ended their nine day occupation of the Enfield car plant in London on April 9. The workers are now running a 24-hour picket outside the factory gates.

Below is an abridged version of a statement issued by some Ford Visteon workers and their supporters. The statement raises the call for the government to step in to keep the factory running by making "green products".

Send messages of support to the Ford Visteon workers to visteonoccupation@googlemail.com.

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We, the Ford Visteon workers, occupied our factory on Wednesday April 1.

The previous day in a meeting lasting just 6 minutes we were told that the European company, with plants in Belfast, Basildon and Ponders End, Enfield, was going into administration and that we were to leave without our wages being paid.

Personal possessions could be collected the next day, but at 10am the factory was locked closed. Workers had already occupied the Belfast factory, and are still inside.

The 200 workers, who are part of the Ford subsidiary, want the same conditions they have always had via "mirror contracts" with the parent company.

Up to now, they don't know when they will get wages due, and their pensions are to be controlled by the government Pensions Protection Fund.

This means a maximum £9000 payout, and much reduced conditions! Some of the women and men have 40 years service!

But unexpectedly Unite union members have taken determined action that bosses thought they had eliminated years ago. The workers want their existing terms respected.

Ford Visteon can't be allowed to avoid their responsibility.

As a result of the occupation, Visteon agreed to negotiate with us — our convenor flew over to the US this week to meet US company reps. More discussions are due this coming week.

As well as proper redundancy payments, some are suggesting that our skills — we can make anything in plastic — should be used to make increasingly needed parts for green products: bike and trailer parts, solar panels, turbines, recycling bins etc.

Government investment in this, rather than throwing money at bankers, could be profitable and save jobs in the long term.