Visteon union convener not charged

It has been reported that Enfield Visteon plant Unite union convenor, who had to appear at the High Court today has not been charged with an offence.

A post on the Visteon support e-mail list stated:

Just come from the High Court. The great news is that Kevin has not been charged and the company has agreed for Kevin to fly to the United States to talk to the head of the company to negotiate with them for all the affected factories in the UK. The time for negotiating an agreement was given until this Wednesday. Nothing much was said or I did not get the full details.

Posted By

Apr 6 2009 17:22


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Red Marriott
Apr 6 2009 23:04

The court hearing today (Monday 6 Apr) lasted only a few minutes. The main points of the agreement made by union and Visteon administrators;

An agreement was made that the (potentially imprisonable) charges against Unite convenor Kevin Nolan and others would be dropped.

The union gave an undertaking that the plant would be vacated by Thursday. But the actual case was 'Visteon against Persons Unknown' - so the judge asked what validity could be given by the Unite union officials for the compliance of these Persons Unknown with any undertaking. The answer was that as the occupiers are members of Unite they could be expected to abide by whatever the union negotiates. Presumably as part of the interim deal, Visteon did not today seek an injunction against against all the occupiers, which could have been used as intimidation by threatening legal sanctions against those refusing to obey.

Visteon already, in a separate case, have secured a possession order for the factory but gave an undertaking not to use it while negotiations are ongoing. Nolan will fly with a leading Unite official to the US to negotiate at a meeting on Wednesday.

BUT - as was revealed tonight at a predictably tedious SWP-organised Visteon support meeting - a Unite official verified that the US negotiations will be with Visteon, not with Ford. The workers' demands have always been that Ford should honour the redundancy deals that workers signed up for when they were originally employed by Ford, and which they were promised would be honoured when Visteon took over. But if Ford are not even involved in the US negotiations, how can that demand possibly have a chance of being met? Even if Visteon wanted to honour it they presumably can't make promises on behalf of Ford. From the start of the occupation, Ford has maintained that any obligations they had to the workers are in the past. This thorny question was put to the Unite official but the SWP chair ensured - by pretending it would be responded to later - that it received no answer. Nor did a question asking the truth of rumours that production at Visteon Southampton was now hampered by shortage of components parts. That kind of practical reflection on possible strategy would have taken precious time away from the empty feel-good Party-line speechifying, telling the Party faithful what they want to hear. (One or two other non-party persons spoke from the floor, eg from Harringay Solidarity Group; some Visteon workers also spoke and gave useful accounts of their recent experiences.)

Though the union cannot officially condone unlawful occupation, they are aware that it gives them added leverage in negotiations - and that they would become immediately obsolete if they didn't support and represent the occupiers. They also know that, with every plant closure, their membership is shrinking before their eyes. The US meeting is on Wednesday - and one can speculate that if an acceptable deal is not reached and the occupiers decide to reject it and stay (thereby either coming into possible conflict with their union or maybe being given an unofficial nod of approval) then an eviction could begin soon after. Or the workers may decide to leave on Wednesday or Thursday. They received much encouragement today from various supporters to stick it out.