Simon Basketter examines the companies behind the sacking of hundreds of UK car plant workers with no notice or redundancy pay.
The company that summarily sacked 600 workers leading to occupations in Belfast, Basildon and Enfield is Visteon UK. It a wholly owned subsidiary of US-based Visteon Corporation.
The administrators say that Visteon UK owes more than £400 million to Visteon Corp. In other words, the company owes money to itself.
Visteon UK’s pension fund is in deficit and workers are being told there is nothing that can be done about it.
But where did the money in the pension fund go? And how did it end up in deficit? It’s not because the workers haven’t worked for their pensions.
Donald J Stebbins, president and chief operating officer of Visteon Corp, received $1.48 million in cash and bonuses last year. He was paid his annual bonus last month – but the company won’t reveal how much that was.
The Ford Motor Company outsourced its work to Visteon in 2000. Ford says the job cuts are not its problem. This is despite workers saying they are still on Ford contracts that guarantee no compulsory redundancies and protection for their pensions.
It isn’t suprising Ford that is not concerned. Alan Mulally, Ford’s president and chief executive officer, took home an obscene $13.6 million dollars in salary and rewards last year.
Visteon’s administrators, who have been brought in to oversee the company’s closure, are KPMG. They are little better.
A spokesperson for KPMG said, “It is very simple. The company is insolvent. Ford and Visteon UK are completely separate companies. There is no legal basis for the claim.
“As a court appointed administrator called in by Visteon UK we make the redundancies. It is a clear legal process and it is not being treated in any different way to any other.”
KPMG is one of the biggest accountancy companies in the world. It has been at the heart of the privatisation and failed PFI schemes in our public services.
The day after it declared its lack of concern for the loss of jobs, redundancy pay and pensions of Visteon workers, KPMG was hit with a billion dollar lawsuit over claims that its “grossly negligent” role in auditing of US subprime mortgages helped trigger the financial crisis.
KPMG is accused of covering up “catastrophic” problems at New Century – which was once the largest subprime mortgage company, but is now bankrupt.
The accountancy firm has denied any wrongdoing in connection with its relationship at New Century.
The view of the administrators is that Visteon UK workers are simply creditors like any other, except in one respect – they should be at the back of the queue.
But the factory occupations and solidarity from other workers have the power to force KPMG to see things somewhat differently.