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Around 140 workers occupying a Belfast factory that has been earmarked for closure vowed on Wednesday to continue their protest until bosses stump up decent redundancy packages.

Workers occupied the canteen after the 210 staff at the Visteon plant, which makes engine parts for the Ford Fiesta and was previously owned by Ford, were told on Tuesday that it was to close immediately.

Administrators KPMG have only offered the workers measly statutory redundancy payments.

But the Visteon workers are adamant that bosses must honour pay and conditions guarantees that were made when the company was established out of the existing Ford plant nine years ago.

Michael Quigley, a worker at the plant for 33 years, said that he was prepared to wait in the factory until Ford came to the table.

Mr Quigley said: ‘We have to stick this out – we have to get Ford involved.

‘They told everybody at that time that we have guaranteed jobs for life with Ford terms and conditions, but now they don’t want to know.’

West Belfast MP Gerry Adams addressed the workers at a packed impromptu meeting in the canteen on Wednesday.

‘Ford controlled the purse strings and everything that was happening here, so they have a duty of responsibility towards yourselves,’ Mr Adams said.

‘There is almost a degree of chicanery involved, of snatch-and-grab, where they come in, where they give people minimal redundancies as opposed to your full entitlement and terms and conditions,’ the Sinn Fein leader stormed.

Mr Adams appealed for workers to stay united.

‘What these big businesses are dependent on is that you won’t stick with it – what they are dependent on is that, through sheer domestic pressure and being tired and sitting up in late nights, you will go,’ he declared.

‘It is of key importance that you stay united and that you stay cohesive in terms of your demands.’

Unite union convener John Maguire accused Ford and Visteon bosses of colluding to put the plant into administration.

‘Any other time the Ford Motor Company shut a plant they give people proper redundancy packages, but they’ve left the Irish plant high and dry,’ Mr Maguire said.

‘The whole thing has been stage-managed and I don’t want people to think this is anything to do with the credit crunch. It isn’t.’

Visteon insisted that the decision to go into administration had been made after its ‘substantial losses’ left it with no other option.

Chief executive Donald Stebbins said: ‘Regrettably, having exhausted all options, the Visteon UK board of directors had no alternative but to file for administration.

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