Letters of support from German ex-Visteon workers

Letter from Worker at Tedrive, formerly Visteon in Wuelfrath, Germany

It is good to hear from Visteon workers in England and Ireland fighting back and occupying their factories. In the Visteon plants in Wuelfrath and Dueren (West-Germany) workers have been too patient for too long…

In 2000 the former Ford plants in Wuelfrath and Dueren were outsourced to Visteon. Despite agreements with works council and unions it took only few years to deteriorate the working conditions of the former Ford workers. As early as 2003 about 400 of the 1,000 workers were employed by temp agencies. In 2006 the remaining permanent workers had to swallow a so-called restructuring agreement in order to ‘save’ Visteon: no christmas and holiday money for three years plus wage cuts, in total 15,000 Euro per worker within this three years period. In summer 2006 these new conditions prepared Visteon to sell the two plants to Tedrive. Dueren now focus production on power trains and Wuelfrath on steering systems, meaning that the chassis of the Fiesta manufactured in Cologne is produced elsewhere. In spring 2007 Special Situations Venture Partners II bought the Visteon plants under the name of Tedrive. Works council and unions sold this deal as a way to ‘save jobs’. Tedrive new that all major order of Ford would run out by 2009, they were just in for some quick money. As it now turns out they did not pay for the companies (part-time) pension scheme either. Instead Tedrive bought another small supplier for steering systems, taking over machines and patents. Ford/Visteon/Tedrive in Wuelfrath now manufacturing steering systems for Ford Mondeo, Galaxy and S-Max and parts for Volvo and Land Rover. In November 2008 the order from the US – about 30 percent of the total production in Wuelfrath – are cancelled. 150 temp workers are sacked on the spot and 170 highly skilled permanent workers are shifted from single parts manufacturing back to assembly line production. On a company assembly on 31st of October2008 the company prepares for a final blow: 28o workers are supposed to be sacked and the remaining 288 are supposed to accept wage cuts of further 4.6 million Euro. At the same time the managements demands Sunday and holiday shifts for finishing the outstanding Ford orders! Only mild protest from the workers representative (works council). On 10th of December the company announces bankruptcy. Ford still depends on the plant in Wuelfrath, they pay for each delivery immediately – instead of the former six weekly payments. In that way Ford paid 7 million Euro in December and 6.5 million Euro in January 2009. Due to lack of investment by Tedrive the production is rather precarious now, spare parts are missing, sometimes simple things like safety gloves lack, as well. The normal shift bonus for the workers is not paid. All in all it became clear: workers have been rather patient, accepting wage cut after wage cut and job cut after job cut. Now they have double stress: Sunday shifts for last orders and the threat of near future unemployment.

Letter from another worker at Tedrive, in Germany

hello colleagues in england,

greetings in solidarity from former Ford werke ag in Germany. we have been outsourced to visteon in 2000 and sold to Orlando in May 2007, a German-Dutch investment group – so now we are employees of the Tedrive-Group. Since December 2008 some branches of the Tedrive Group are in insolvency proceedings and mass redundancies are about to happen – the rest of the workers are supposed to accept a considerable wage cut and to be thankful for the ‘saved” jobs. We got to know about the factory occupations in Great Britain and we wish you best of luck. In Germany in the former Ford/Visteon plants industrial peace is being kept up and Ford is delivered in time, given that Tedrive still depends on Ford and expects a promise for long-term orders. In Germany, as well, Ford is delaying things on purpose, trying to go the way of least resistance and most likely doesn’t think about saving the former Ford employees or plants – they are just interested in securing the supply chain/loyality/quality for a cheap price! don’t back off – you have a lot to lose!

in solidarity, colleagues from Germany
despite the changes of names we say: once ford, always ford, because we are more than just ‘former-ford-employees”!

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