Visteon occupations: Which way now?

Supporters rally in Enfield, 4 April 2009

A leaflet produced by supporters of the occupation aimed at the Visteon workers, suggesting possible ways to advance the struggle.

Which way now?
Some ideas from some supporters…

The main leverage and bargaining power is the occupation of the plant.

On Wednesday the union’s role is limited to negotiating a deal – but the workers have to make their own decision in their own interests when and why to carry on or to end the occupation. This should not be made in a room in America, but in a common meeting here in the plant with everyone agreeing.

The union negotiators might say that it is best to leave in order to help negotiations – and the Ford bosses will certainly claim so - but common sense tells us that leaving without a guaranteed deal means getting a worse deal. The occupation is the trump card that the workers hold.

Of course staying in for longer is also not easy – it is important now to find ways of making it easier – taking shifts of staying here and going home, watching films, making it as comfortable as possible.

What might happen next?
To give up the occupation means to continue negotiations from a position of weakness. Stopping occupying and picketing instead is throwing away the greatest strength you have. It would be easier for the bosses to seize the machinery, and easier for them to disperse and dissolve the struggle. Also, a picket line will not give any more legal security – and makes it easier for the cops to move us on. Standing outside the plant for 24 hours a day will be hard to maintain and picketing Ford showrooms will be less affective without the occupation as a focus point.

If you want to make sure you get what you want out of this – the best way is to stay in occupation until all the workers get what they want.

This is a benchmark for how other workplace closures will be dealt with, what tactics can be seen to be successful and what weakens workers’ struggles. Many other workers know this and are watching with interest; the occupation has already been an inspiration. But history has shown us that going down the path of negotiations without a real determination does not lead to workers victory. Workers staying strong by taking the initiative gives us the best chance.

We know it’s you who take the real risks in this situation and we can only offer here how we see it, what in our view the choices and best options are. Whatever you decide to do we will support you.

- some supporters.

Posted By

Ex-temp
Apr 6 2009 17:40

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Comments

olivodelbuho
Apr 6 2009 18:04

A worker from Visteon Belfast said today that they want their job back and that they would not leave the factory!

Ex-temp
Apr 6 2009 18:53

Yes, this is a question to the Belfast a lot - do you know what the mood is like there? And how long people are preparing to stay for?

Do you think it would be worth you lot distributing this leaflets to the occupiers? (Or a variation on it?)

Choccy
Apr 6 2009 19:36

A few of us visited the Belfast Visteon plant yesterday.
Morale is still high and they're running things well, running the canteen for themsleves, have various plans of actions and ways to get word out on the poster boards.
They had a 'family fun day' yesterday, many workers families and members of the local community were there - they had bouncy castles and a live band playing.

We got to have a look at the shop floor and see the un-manned machinery which is sad, but the mood remains upbeat and the ones at the gate said they were intent on staying till they get what they want.

Members of othger political groups were also there pffering solidarity. Apparently there might be a bank account set up for a support fund. If we hear anything we'll let youse know.

rousseau
Apr 6 2009 20:45

Occupy. Resist. Produce.
-the motto of the Argentinian occupation movement

Is taking over the factories and having the workers running them democratically a possibility? That seems like the ideal path to go down, as long as it is feasible and the workers believe they have the right to own their own labor.

PartyBucket
Apr 6 2009 21:11

I posted some pics from the Belfast plant on one of the other threads yesterday.

Choccy
Apr 6 2009 21:27

Do a wee write-up with your pics in smile
Stick it in 'news'

Django
Apr 6 2009 21:32
Rousseau wrote:
Occupy. Resist. Produce.
-the motto of the Argentinian occupation movement

Is taking over the factories and having the workers running them democratically a possibility? That seems like the ideal path to go down, as long as it is feasible and the workers believe they have the right to own their own labor.

While I can see the appeal of it, I don't think turning occupied workplaces into co-ops is something I'd advocate, as it has a tendency to leave all the market forces which shape our lives under capitalism in place whilst getting rid of a management we can struggle against in defence of our own interests. I pretty much agree with everything in this article:

http://libcom.org/library/co-ops-or-conflicts

fatbongo
Apr 7 2009 01:43

That sounds a bit purist to me. If they are unemployed, who are they going to struggle against?

Having said this, they aren't campaigning to keep their jobs with visteon - the factory has been run down and there are rumors that production is going to Turkey. At the moment, the point seems to be to get a decent redundancy and to keep their pensions, presumably to tide them over until they find new jobs.

There have been comments about staying on and making other plastic products (eg "green" related goods), although i'm not sure how much of this is coming from the workers themselves. Nevertheless, I have definately got the sense that the workers feel that visteon have deliberately run the factory down and failed to reinvest the profits. given this it's perhaps not suprising, if they feel that they could (have) run the place better.

In their situation, a coop might be an option. i'd consider it, because i'd be shitting myself about not having a wage, having to pay the mortgage etc. since it's not easy to find jobs right now.

Joseph Kay
Apr 7 2009 06:55
fatbongo wrote:
In their situation, a coop might be an option. i'd consider it, because i'd be shitting myself about not having a wage, having to pay the mortgage etc. since it's not easy to find jobs right now.

while this is obviously a call for the workers themselves to make, i think using the occupation as leverage to get decent redundancy (like they are) is a better way to win that degree of material security than trying to run a business in the current climate. for me it's not a question of purity but practicality - co-ops are rarely if ever as good a means of securing material needs as direct struggle against the bosses. collective direct action - like that being taken by the visteon workers - is where workers are strong, with demands made of the bosses and it being the bosses problem how to pay for them. running a business however is a whole different terrain, one which locks workers into the very capitalist logic of rationalising, cost cutting etc the occupation is a reaction against. as the economist - the voice of the bosses - puts it:

All in this together, The Economist, March 28th-April 3rd 2009, p.79. wrote:
Co-ops also have their advantages. Lay-offs, short hours and wage cuts can be achieved without strikes, and agreements are reached faster than in companies that must negotiate with unions or government bodies (...) The 13,000 members of Eroski, another co-operative in the Mondragón group and Spain's second-largest retailer, have not just frozen their salaries this year. They have also given up their annual dividend on their individual stakes in the company. A constant flow of information to worker-owners, says Mr Zabala [Mondragón HR chief], makes them ready to take painful decisions.
Steven.
Apr 7 2009 08:45

That's right Joseph. And if the company can't get a loan to cover the £400m debt, the workers wouldn't find it any easier

fatbongo
Apr 7 2009 11:17
Quote:
with demands made of the bosses and it being the bosses problem how to pay for them. running a business however is a whole different terrain, one which locks workers into the very capitalist logic of rationalising, cost cutting etc

Given that we have capitalism, I don't see how we can avoid this - whatever the stucture of the enterprise. If you are employed, this logic is conveyed to you via the boss, if you are working in a coop you get it through your accountant. The realities are the same, push the firm to the point it is unprofitable and you lose your job - which in my experience means being fucked for a couple of years.

However, within these constraints, there is some flexibility. Acording to the documents in the FT, this factory has been deliberately run down by management. Moreover, the profit that has been made over the last few years has gone to the owners. In a coop the profits would've been paid to the workers (effectively a higher wage). They wouldn't have deliberately run their own factory down or let someone steal their pensions. instead they could've looked into developing new products for which there is a market.

We will have to see what happens. But if the redundancy package doesn't get a lot better, that would have been a better deal overall for the actually existing workers.

Ex-temp
Apr 7 2009 11:53
Quote:
Do a wee write-up with your pics in
Stick it in 'news'

Yes please do!

PartyBucket
Apr 7 2009 12:13

I'll get some more pics at the rally tomorrow and throw them all in, along with a report of the rally itself.

Choccy
Apr 7 2009 12:23

sweet smile

rousseau
Apr 7 2009 16:16

Direct Action and Solidarity

Thanks for posting a link to an article that takes a critical reflection on co-ops and workplace democracy.

Here's some articles which respond emphasizing how co-ops can be a means of class struggle. it seems the more dramatic and just the actions the more publicity and inspiration will come to the labor movement and class struggle. These discussions with start to flourish across the world. And then... who knows.

http://libcom.org/library/bailouts-or-co-operatives
http://anarchism.pageabode.com/anarcho/co-operatives-and-conflicts