Visteon: Enfield occupation ends but the struggle continues

visteon8Sacked workers occupying Visteon’s Enfield plant vacated the premises following announcement of a “deal” discussed with the Unite union.

Workers occupying the Visteon factory in Enfield left the building together at midday today after voting to end in their occupation. There were around 200 people outside to greet the occupiers who, carrying pillows and sleeping bags, descended the spiral steps to rousing applause and chants.

At the High Court earlier this week, the employers agreed to grant a three day window for negotiations to occur before pushing for charges against the occupiers. Talks took place in New York City on 8 April between Visteon bosses and union officials, and it was announced that an improved deal was offered. Details of this new offer however have not been shared with the workers so far.

The occupation may be over but they will continue to picket outside the factory to ensure Visteon can’t strip it down. Visteon workers in Basildon have been picketing their workplace all week, and over in Belfast their factory occupation continues.

Some have expressed fears that by ending their occupation workers will lose leverage with their employer.

Supporters of the workers are gathering tonight to discuss how they can assist the Visteon workers in their dispute. Here are the details:.

Support Visteon Workers
7pm – Thursday April 9th TONIGHT!
Phoenix Millennium Centre, 386 West Green Rd, Tottenham N15 3QL (entrance
on the corner of Vincent Road)
(10 mins south east of Turnpike Lane tube)

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”!

Radio show about Visteon factory occupations

Listen to the Speakers’ Corner show, broadcast on Resonance104.4fm in London, about the recent factory occupations in Britain with exclusive interviews from inside the factory. The radio show was done by Will Roche, member of BECTU.

Click here to download MP3-file (23MB)

Video: Visteon factory occupation workers go to boss’s house

On Monday 6th April 2009, seven days after occupying their factory in Basildon, Essex, the Visteon car plant workers decide to give their former boss, Steve Gawne, a visit at his country manor to hand-deliver a letter demanding justice be served.

Basildon Visteon workers protest outside former boss’ home

Axed employees protested outside the £600,000 Maldon home of their former boss – demanding the redundancy and pension packages they were promised.

A total of 170 former workers at Visteon (UK) in Basildon face the dole queue and reduced pensions They waved banners outside the home of Stephen Gawne, 53, who is still a director of Visteon (UK) despite it going into administration.

He is now based at sister company Visteon Engineering Services in Endeavour Drive, Basildon. The firm will not confirm his role there.

Visteon Engineering is not paying redundancies and is accused of not honouring pensions for ex-workers of sister car parts company Visteon UK in Christopher Martin Road, Basildon, despite being set up by the same people.

Visteon UK workers were given just six minutes notice, statutory redundancies and news their pension trust had a £260million deficit, when they lost jobs last Tuesday.

The firm is reported to have debts of £669million, but £400million of this is owed to its own parent company Visteon Corporation, whose president Donald J Stebbins last year took home £996,928 in salary and bonuses.

When Visteon split from Ford UK in 2000, staff were promised equal pay, pension and redundancy rights to Ford staff.

Scott Edmunds, 33, explained why Mr Gawne’s home was targeted: “We’re all out of a job, but he’s okay. We want him to know we won’t just roll over. I’ve had to tell my daughter I won’t be able to get what she wants for her fifth birthday.”

The demo came as Visteon set up new mystery car parts company Automotive Products Ltd, just weeks before KPMG was called in to liquidate Visteon UK, causing 600 job losses around the country.

Mr Gawne is a director of Visteon Charleville, France, and of another Visteon car parts sister company called Reydel Ltd and now Automotive Products, also registered to Endeavor Drive, Basildon.

Urgent – picket needed in support of UK factory worker occupation in NYC today, Wednesday 8th April

Hundreds of Visteon workers here were all sacked with no redundancy and no pension – they have now occupied two of their three factories (one was evicted by police).

They have now won negotiations with Visteon International management in New York City, which are taking place today, Wednesday 8 April at 10 am.

Location of the meeting in NYC is at Kirkland and Ellis at 153 53rd St entrance at plaza level meeting on 50floor conference centre.

So please forward this round lists, indymedias, to anyone in the area who might be able to get down there, and if anyone does make it please take some photos to show the workers here!

Enfield Visteon occupation updates, 7 April

Brief notes on today’s key events in the occupation of the Enfield Visteon plant.

– a group of Belfast Visteon workers (from their occupied plant) visited the Enfield plant today and brought their solidarity to a meeting of those in the occupation.
– there is currently a meeting in London of Ford union convenors (also attended by Enfield and Belfast workers) which is discussing the situation
– a group of the Enfield workers and supporters went off to leaflet Dagenham car workers
– as far as I know Kevin the convenor and Unite union leaders are, as agreed, preparing to go to the US for negotiations
– it has been discovered by the workers that Visteon secretly set up a shadow company a couple of months ago…
– over 200 people attended a very powerful support meeting in Tottenham last night, called by the Enfield and Haringey Trades Councils. 7 Visteon workers attended, handed out leaflets, and 3 of them spoke movingly about the outrageous way they were treated, how they took over the plant, and how overwhelmed and grateful they are for all the support they’ve received.
– support messages have been coming in from all over the UK and the world, many talk about how they are publicising the situation widely in their areas (**see note below)
– many trades unionists are organising workplace meetings and collections in support
– media interest remains very high
– Wed 12 noon: Family Day outside
– Thurs 11am: mass rally outside in support of the Visteon occupation

Some other issues:
– there is debate inside the plant about the negotations and next steps
– it has been decided that only workers will be allowed in and out of the occupied plant
– there currently doesn’t seem to be any functioning internet communication inside the plant
– (** see above) messages of support are being printed out elsewhere, brought to the plant and then handed to a shop steward inside
– money can be brought to the plant, or cheques sent to ‘Haringey Solidarity Group’, PO Box 2474, London N8 [write on the back ‘For Visteon Occupation’]. All money collected this way will be handed to the Visteon workers.

Re communications issues, in the light of the above it might be useful if there was a communication point set up by supporters outside during the day, with net access and a printer.