Original source:

Visteon workers have won a resounding victory in their fight for justice after bosses backed down and offered huge redundancy payouts.

The former Ford workers had resisted Visteon executives’ attempts to make them pay for the recession with their jobs by taking over the factories and mounting mass pickets after they were sacked with just six minutes’ notice on March 31.

The 600 workers, who made Ford car parts at three factories in Belfast, Enfield and Basildon, have now been offered packages worth tens of thousands of pounds in a stunning defeat for the US corporation.

Ford had washed its hands of the Visteon workers, claiming that their sackings were ‘nothing to do with us,’ but copies of employment contracts and the agreement Ford signed with Unite when it spun off the company in 2000 stated that the workers’ terms and conditions were ‘protected for life.’

Workers at the Belfast plant told the Morning Star on Friday that Visteon, despite claiming that its British subsidiary had gone bankrupt, was now prepared to pay out an ‘enhanced redundancy package’ that includes ‘special payments’ of 52 weeks’ pay backdated to last November, which could be worth up to £50,000 for some of the longer-serving staff.

The offer also includes all the cash that the workers were owed for the redundancy notice that they were never given and, although the question of pensions remains unresolved, workers at all the Visteon plants were in no doubt that they had won a huge victory.

‘We’ve beaten Ford and we’ve beaten Visteon,’ declared Sharon Steele, one of the sacked workers at the Enfield plant, as a vote was being taken last night on accepting the offer.

Former Belfast Visteon worker Gerry Campbell pointed out that ‘the workers had nothing five weeks ago and, if they hadn’t fought, they would still have nothing, but this is a major win.’

The workers’ factory occupations were supported with solidarity from engineers at Ford’s Southampton and Dagenham plants and trades union councils throughout the south-east helped to organise pickets of Ford car showrooms to highlight the corporation’s responsibility to the workers.

Haringey Trades Council organiser Keith Flett insisted that the Visteon workers’ stand ‘shows how workers can fight back.

‘The big lesson is that, despite all the fine words from the Labour government sympathising with workers losing their jobs in the recession, taking over workplaces and demonstrating solidarity with those workers achieves more.’

The victory comes as the local Labour MP for workers at the Basildon plant Angela Smith demanded an investigation into how Ford had used Visteon to cover-up its responsibility for staff.

‘It is hard for Visteon employees to accept that Ford has no responsibility towards them when their access ID cards display the Ford logo,’ she explained.

‘Long-service awards are given out in the name of Ford, not Visteon. Employees get a discount through the Ford employees’ scheme on Ford cars and have access to the Ford social club,’ she added.

As Visteon had consistently declared losses ever since Ford created it, Ms Smith said that the corporation owed its former workers an explanation for what had happened to them.

‘Visteon had multimillion-pound deficits. Why would any company maintain such a deficit for so long unless it suited the company to do so?’ she asked.

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