Visteon/ Ford workers in Belfast, Basildon and Enfield have taken the lead in the struggle to save jobs. In Belfast the response of the workforce to the news that the factory was to shut, and to the attempt by administrators to remove them from the premises, was to occupy the plant. PETER HADDEN reports

NI: Visteon workers battle for jobs

Some of the workers involved in occupying the Belfast plant spoke to the Socialist:

Brian Burns – Shop Steward

“What we want is the factory reopened and our jobs back. I’m 36 years old and a redundancy package is no use to me.

Ford manipulated the bankruptcy as a way of walking away from their agreements. They told this factory how much we have to sell the parts to them for. It’s a bit like you walking into a car dealer, seeing a car costing £20,000 and telling the dealer they have to sell it to you for £5,000. We did make a profit on fuel rods and manifolds. If Ford paid this plant the rate they are prepared to pay the factories in the Philippines and South Africa it would have been very profitable indeed.”

Carl Perkins, Process Operator

“Initially our attitude was that if we are to be made redundant then we should at least be given the Ford terms we were promised. But the more time that goes by we are realising more what Ford / Visteon have done to us. Now we want our jobs, not redundancy – even me and I’m sixty years old.

I’ve worked here for over 31 years, if I got the Ford terms I could leave with a pension which would leave me relatively comfortable. But, I’d rather we kept the jobs and skills so that the younger guys with families can work and enjoy the dignity of not living on welfare.

This occupation will change us all, we will not be same people after this – from now on we will all be more prepared to support fellow workers facing hard times.”

 

John, Fran, Patrick – “Cost Competitive Rate” workers

“We started here after the deal that set up Visteon. We all left full time jobs to start here at the time on temporary contracts. The understanding was that when you got a start in Visteon / Ford you were made, it was a job for life.

A lot of us here are in our thirties – a redundancy payment won’t make up for 35 years of work that we’ll lose with this company. There are no jobs to walk into if we walk out of here.

All those on the Ford rate, some with over 30 years experience have said that there will be no deal for anyone unless there’s a deal for everyone including those on the CCR rate.”

 

Neil McCoy – Production Supervisor, Jackie Small – Plant Engineer & Sean McCaffrey – Electrician

“All three of us started here as apprentices – most people here are like that; many have never signed on or worked anywhere else.

“Ford always used to promote team work and all that – in all the years they never achieved what we’ve managed in ten days. There’s no managers, no supervisors, no rank, but everyone has a job and it gets done. A plant engineer cleans the toilets, there’s an electrician doing the cooking, others man the gate and anything that needs doing gets done through co-operation, that’s team work.”