Workers occupy Visteon Factory - updates and discussion

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jef costello
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Mar 31 2009 15:18
Workers occupy Visteon Factory - updates and discussion

Workers in Belfast have ocupied the factory after being told they would only receive statutory redundancy pay as the company is in administration.
It's union supported according to statements. There are two other visteon factories one in Enfield and one in Basildon.

Anyone got any more info?

Bobby
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Mar 31 2009 16:24

nothing extra. Its important that as many of us in the North get out there and see what we can do to help. There is a possibility this could spread to England

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Choccy
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Mar 31 2009 16:33

Yeah local radio had interviews with some of the employees but couldn't gather anything more on the BBC coverage.
They're speaking to some of the factory occupants now and they're saying they're in it for the long-haul.

The preferential demand is for Ford obviously to give their jobs back.
But given that's obviously unlikely they're demanding the same redundancy package apparently being offered to workers in the English plants

BB
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Mar 31 2009 19:48

A bit more
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7974454.stm

http://www.u.tv/News/Job-losses-at-Belfast-car-plant/ebf9e3e7-3d9b-410e-82d3-d6fb36d644ea

Bobby
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Mar 31 2009 19:51

I am hopefully going there tommorrow to chat and carry out an audio interview

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Demogorgon303
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Apr 1 2009 10:50

Not sure if this article adds anything, but here you are:

Skips
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Apr 1 2009 12:02

its spread to england.

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Entdinglichung
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Apr 1 2009 14:33

Enfield and Basildon too: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/04/425955.html

Bobby
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Apr 1 2009 16:09

Exclusive audio interview with shop steward at the factory will be posted tonight

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sum-one
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Apr 1 2009 16:39

Would be brilliant if some people could get there and lend a hand/show some solidarity. At least it shows we aren't all rioting in London black bloc

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Choccy
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Apr 1 2009 17:09

Hopefully some of us in Organise will get up tomorrow smile

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jef costello
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Apr 1 2009 19:55

email: I've c + p'd the whole thing because I don't have a link.

Quote:
Date: Tuesday, 31 March, 2009, 5:28 PM

For immediate and urgent release
Support Visteon workers!
200 Visteon car plant workers in Belfast are blockading their factory
after the Company went into administration today. If they get away with
it, over 600 workers in ex-Ford factories in Belfast, Enfield and Basildon
will be sacked and left to claim statutory redundancy form the state. Even
workers with over 30 years service will only get about 9 grand and most
workers a lot less. Also, their pensions plus those of ex-Visteon workers
in Swansea and retirees will go into the Pension Protection Fund, which
will result in reduced payments. This is the brutal side of capitalism -
no bailouts or bonuses like the bankrupt fat cats but bare minimum pay
outs and the dole. Visteon UK executives have jumped ship are now employed
by their own spin-off 'Visteon Engineering Services'. A life raft for rats
escaping the sinking ship!
Visteon was spun-off by Ford in 2000 as a device to slash costs at the
expense of the workforce. Two and then three-tier contracts then followed
as well as outsourcing of 'indirect' jobs. However, for Visteon bosses
this wasn't enough. They've spent the last 3 1/2 tears demanding that
Visteon workers break their Ford 'mirrored' contracts. No doubt there will
be some in the unions who will agree with management that if only the
workforce had agreed cuts in their pay, pensions, terms & conditions,
insolvency could have been avoided. The reality is however, that Visteon
like General Motors' spin-off Delphi was never viable. Visteon workers
were correct to resist and have had at least more income by doing so. It
was that successful battle that has given the Belfast workers the
confidence to resist now.
These workers want to put pressure on Ford to intervene to stop the
sackings. They are appealing to the unions in Ford to support them by not
using parts shipped in to replace those from Belfast. If that fails, the
occupation can be built to involve the trade union movement and
working-class community to force the government to intervene to
nationalise Visteon to save these jobs.
Messages of support / offers of help to John Maguire Belfast Unite
Convenor - 07816590380

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Django
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Apr 1 2009 21:49

Any london libcommers able to make it over then?

blackdwarf
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Apr 2 2009 00:37

I'll try to make it for the evening after work.

jef costello's picture
jef costello
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Apr 2 2009 06:42

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7977758.stm

BBC report on occupations.

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flaneur
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Apr 2 2009 08:15
blackdwarf wrote:
I'll try to make it for the evening after work.

Do you happen to know the address of the factory in Enfield?

Bobby
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Apr 2 2009 10:18

comrades, audio interview avaliabe here
http://ireland.indymedia.org/article/91768

fee free to use it for libcom

antoniamautempo
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Apr 2 2009 12:02

ciao,

short report on enfield from this morning (2nd of april) on:

http://london.indymedia.org.uk/articles/995

plus flyer for solidarity visit tomorrow and saturday (4th of april)

http://london.indymedia.org.uk/events/998

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cantdocartwheels
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Apr 2 2009 13:26
jolly roger wrote:
blackdwarf wrote:
I'll try to make it for the evening after work.

Do you happen to know the address of the factory in Enfield?

Google says:

Enfield Plant
Visteon UK Ltd.
Wharf Road
Enfield
Middlesex
EN3 4TN

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PartyBucket
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Apr 2 2009 13:28

Myself and Deezer are just back from visiting the occupied factory in Belfast. The workers we spoke to at the gate were appreciative of any support, and impressed and heartened by the levels of support shown to them thus far. We were invited in for a look around and a cup of tea, and chatted to the workers on site. They are taking the occupation in shifts, and say they are prepared to be there for the long haul, with the intention of preventing any plant or machinery being removed from the site until a satisfactory settlement is reached. There are people spraypainting placards and banners on site and it seems this has the potential to continue go on for some time.

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Apr 2 2009 13:41

From the NSSN mailing list:

Quote:
Messages of support for Visteon workers in Belfast can be sent to
supportvisteonoccupation@hotmail.com.
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Apr 2 2009 19:56

A small group of us went today to Enfield. It's only 4 train stops to Ponders End from Liverpool St, then a short walk (see article in News for directions). Occupiers on roof with banners. 50 or so people outside, mainly other fellow workers, friends and family outside the the factory, very friendly and appreciative of support. Some union officials were there, saying they have an important meeting tomorrow with management, and that they'll push for proper redundancy package for all workers.

The occupiers are in good spirits - but expecting an eviction notice to be served any day. An eviction would presumably take a few days to organise. Hard to know how much material leverage against the bosses occupying gives the workers; depends on how much the company value the plant machinery still inside. It may be that it's obsolete (only useful for discontinued models) or too expensive to remove and transport to new factories abroad. Or it may still be valuable and the bosses weren't expecting an occupation and so are kicking themselves now... I'm speculating.

Workers had been put on 1, 2, or 3 day shifts since November - led to believe such a sacrifice would help pull the company thru hard times - a now familiar story we shall hear more frequently as more workplaces move towards closure.

Workers say that they generally have contracts with Ford, not Visteon, who Ford later contracted to before Ford pulled out a few years ago. But Ford say they now have no obligations to these workers. (This is all from memory of several different conversations, so apologies for any errors.) Multinationals and their sub-contracting manoeuvres have left workers confused, and are often probably convenient legal loopholes for the bosses.

The union will presumably come back with some kind of deal in next few days - the mood seemed to be that the workers will accept nothing less than full redundancy and pension packages. So there is a possibility workers may reject a deal they feel falls short. This is one reason why it's worth giving as much support as possible, to encourage them to stick it out as long as there's something worth fighting for and to show they're not alone.

There is a demo at 11am this Saturday outside the factory - all welcome.

fatbongo
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Apr 3 2009 00:38

If anyone is going over, Enfield occupiers have said they need "sleeping bags and deoderant"

Caiman del Barrio
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Apr 3 2009 01:16

The flyer I saw at Freedom read more like asking for support against eviction tomorrow (Friday).

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Red Marriott
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Apr 3 2009 09:51

Alan says go today, comment on News says 10am Fri & Sat, we were told yesterday Saturday 11am. There may be some confusion cos they were served with a wrongly addressed eviction notice - by yesterday afternoon they were still waiting for this to be re-served, making eviction today less likely.
Best to call the mobile phone inside the plant: 07799896466

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Apr 3 2009 11:34

Another account from a visitor yesterday;

"On arrival at Visteon a group of police were walking around the plant accompanied by security. Although the workers have control of the main factory there are all sorts of ancillary buildings and entrances to which security have access. Two former workers greeted us, they were sitting outside the main gate blocking it with a car and collecting donations from passers by. We hung around and considered waiting in case the police were there to assist a lorry entering the plant to remove equipment. Apparently Jaguar pulled out their tools earlier last week (or in the last two weeks?) presumably in anticipation of the sudden redundancies/plant closure. Land Rover, however did not pull their tools out so these are still in the factory.

We learnt a lot from the workers at the gate, they told us of how the company had run down the factory over the last two years. Most of the workers actually have contracts with Ford (unconfirmed). In 2000 Ford had spun-off Visteon, this allowed them to manufacture parts for other companies but also further remove or distance an unprofitable part of the company, but Ford retains a 60 percent share. More recently Visteon became Visteon UK ltd. So, despite Visteon UK being now being in receivership (other parts of Visteon have continued in US etc.) as far as the two workers outside the gate are concerned Visteon is Ford and they are Ford workers. It'd be interesting to know whether the legal situation is different for workers with Visteon or Ford contracts - its obviously harder to negotiate with a company in receivership.

Later we walked round to the side of the factory where the workers in occupation were - on the roof and standing on this big staircase holding banners, flags etc. There was a speech from three Unite officials. Usual stuff, a lot about the importance of the meetings they would be having with Visteon/Ford. Some talk about getting more Ford workers out - on solidarity actions or in occupation against redundancies. Less mention of European wide solidarity let alone international solidarity actions. Unite officials promised a quick resolution of the 'problem', insisted they would negotiate good redundancy pay etc. I think they have important meetings today and Saturday. The demo at the plant this Saturday 11am seems to be planned to coincide with one of these negotiating meetings. Unite promised 'anything you need' - the most vocal demand was for clean underpants! Later someone told us that Unite had not given any food or other practical help, it was all
coming from friends and family (or SWP friends). One guy invited the Unite officials to stay the night. Another asked that they get there 6am in the morning - the officials had other plans, important meetings etc. One of the last things they said (in response to workers demands) was that they would negotiate for the same deal for both Visteon and Ford workers.

In general the workers were really friendly and lively. We were warmly greeted at the gate and there were loads of people coming and going, bringing supplies, chatting, cheering, taking the news to Dagenham and reporting back. They are also planning to go to Southampton today or over the weekend.

A guy inside told me that they were determined to stay and felt secure, that out of the 70 or so remaining in occupation they had some people doing shifts, but most just staying there round the clock (i.e. most of them had been there for 48 hours without a break). Obviously its important that the occupation continues while Unite are negotiating with Ford and Visteon's receivers. All of the workers there were machine workers. All of them had contracts as the few temp workers that worked there had been sacked in November last year. They reckoned that the company had about 6 months work in stock/stored up and had begun to invest in building new plants in Hungary and Turkey (I think?).

... after initially feeling a part of the vulture culture of small groups of SWP hanging about people seemed genuinely pleased to see us and happy to get some reading material, swap news and know that people had heard and were prepared to support them. Lots of waving and cheering from the roof as we left."

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Apr 3 2009 15:32

The possession case in court today at 2pm - no news on any result so far.
Apparently this is the third time the company has tried to serve court papers on them (they messed it up the first two times).

The occupiers state that the demo is 10 am tomorrow (Saturday 4 Apr).

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Apr 3 2009 16:57

A bit late but

Quote:
Friday 1.30pm

I’ve just had a call from the workers in the Visteon plant in Enfield – 2 van loads of bailiffs have just arrived and are threatening to re-take the factory by force, without a proper court order – they want as many people as possible to get down there

(Wharf Road, Ponders End)

If they're still holding it then that makes tomorrow more important.

Quote:
Ford Visteon workers have been pleased at the support received from other Ford plants as well, such as Southampton, who are blacking Visteon products.

Come to the factory in Morson Road, near Ponders End train station, to show your support.
Join a support protest on Saturday 4th April 10-11am.
(Trains from Tottenham Hale, then the plant is a 5 min walk from Ponders End station, cross the foot-bridge, walk down main road towards Central London, the next street to the left is Morson Road, with the factory situated at the end)

There's also talk of a visit to Southampton by some of th occupiers.

Caiman del Barrio
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Apr 3 2009 17:21

The bailiffs only came to serve a notice I think, I also got an emergency text around 4pm haha...

Excellent news about Southampton.

Ex-temp
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Apr 3 2009 17:39

Right well hope to see some of you tomorrow then!

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JoeMaguire
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Apr 3 2009 22:43

Saturday 4 April 10-11am Enfield, London
Solidarity with the plant occupations!
Morson Road which is over the road from Ponders End train station
(4 stops from Liverpool Street)
http://publish.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/04/426303.html