The role and activities of the Ford Visteon Workers (Enfield) Support Group

Ford Visteon Workers
Final day after occupation and pickets

This booklet looks at the effectiveness of the Ford Visteon Workers (Enfield) Support Group (SG) that was set up in April 2009. The group was formed solely to give solidarity and support to the Enfield Ford Visteon workers who first occupied, then picketed their factory for six weeks from April 1st to 15th May 2009. This pamphlet is intended as a record of the support group that set up to assist the Enfield workers and as a tool for future workers support groups. We do not discuss the actual dispute here, as that has been looked at in detail already (see references at the end for further reading). We also accept that our experiences may not be applicable to every situation.

Submitted by varlet on December 12, 2009

There were 3 Ford Visteon car parts plants involved in the joint struggle against closure, including one in Belfast which was occupied by the workers throughout the dispute, and one in Basildon, Essex where the workers effectively picketed their factory around the clock for the whole dispute.
This pamphlet looks only at the record of the support group that was set up to assist the Enfield workers.

Supporting the workers

We were able to support the workers in a number of ways. This included helping reinforce their determination and spirit, gaining publicity, overcoming isolation, helping strengthen picket lines, putting pressure on Ford International, and raising much-needed funds. This pamphlet looks honestly at some of these efforts.

There is a long history of support groups being set up, whether for major industrial struggles (as with the '84-5 miners’ strike) or for localised workers' disputes. They have proved to be an invaluable way of generating publicity, solidarity and fundraising. By sharing some our experiences as the Support Group we hope to inspire future support activity and maybe offer some pointers towards effective ways of carrying out such work.

If this booklet can, in any small way, help even one set of workers in struggle against their bosses, it has been worthwhile putting it together.

Aims & Principles
The following were the aims and principles of the SG agreed at our first meeting:
- We agree to launch the Ford Visteon Workers Support Group.
- All monies raised to go directly to the Visteon workers' own treasurer.
- The weekly open meetings will discuss practical support and solidarity activities, and make decisions. They are open to Visteon workers and families, all groups, and any other supporters.
- The group will work in collaboration with Visteon workers.
- Visteon workers, and only Visteon workers, can speak for themselves.
- It is vital to emphasise the link with Ford.
- All messages of support to the workers to go directly to the workers’ email address.

Eight meetings of the SG were held in all. The first was an open meeting outside the occupied factory on 4 April with around 50 activists. Future meetings were held on Wednesdays or Thursdays at the Phoenix Millennium Centre, West Green Road, Tottenham, although one, on 22 April, took place at the picket line. On average between 10 and 20 people attended, many representing organisations [See list at the end]. These included anarchist groups, socialist parties, union branches and trades councils, campaign groups, and of course reps from the Visteon workers.

Unlike many previous support groups, we had a supporter inside the plant (Alan, a supporter of Haringey Solidarity Group - HSG). After hearing how Belfast workers had occupied, he had gone to the Enfield plant in solidarity just as the workers were about to occupy their plant. As a result he was in occupation with the workers from the start. This leant credibility to those offering support who knew Alan. Also, as supporters were allowed into the occupation, communication and trust developed quickly between workers and supporters. Other activists from HSG visited and occasionally stayed inside the occupation, and explained to a number of workers what HSG and other supporters could help with. This process began to be formalised when HSG took a proposal of things they could help with and passed it around the workers [see Appendix 1], including the factory's Unite union convenor, who were supportive. This meant that when HSG offered their bank account to put funds through, the idea was cautiously accepted. This initial contact, and the lack of any full-time union officials present at the occupation, allowed trust to develop between the two groups. This was something we had to work on, as none of us were known to any of the workers before the dispute. However, the relationship definitely worked better than in previous support groups, where Union officials had tried to separate workers and supporters probably fearing they (the officials) may not be able to control the dispute.

At the beginning of the dispute full-time officials from the workers' union (Unite) were not really involved. In the past when the union hierarchy has been actively involved they have tended to drive to keep a wedge between workers and supporters. Had the union been involved from the start they are likely to have tried to prevent the workers having any direct control over funds raised, or using HSG's bank account, and would have tried to stop supporters being part of the occupation. This would have meant the workers wouldn't have had control of their own funds. If we'd had to fight the union hierarchy, some of us feel a number of the active supporters would have dropped away. Further, with no regular or substantial presence from either the Socialist Workers Party or Socialist Party in the SG (because they each generally did their own thing, despite SG efforts to promote all-round co-operation), we didn't have to deal with power struggles for control that too often take place in such circumstances. This allowed the support group to get on with practical stuff right from the start. In some previous support groups, these divisions and different political allegiances etc have tended to paralyse any collective support work and initiative, or have resulted in one political party dominating.

With the majority of the workers unused to industrial action, they were open to supporters coming up with ideas to move the dispute forward. So, although we made clear from the beginning that we would not do anything against the wishes of the workers, it meant the SG had some influence during the whole dispute, rather than it just following the union or workers requests. Obvious examples of this were people in the SG, with the workers' agreement, making banners for the workers; paying for and getting printed the dispute's leaflets after being approved by the workers; suggesting and helping co-ordinating days of action around targets like car dealerships in addition to the nearest one to the factory (which was the workers’ first target), and a protest outside KPMG (the company administrators). The workers were by no means followers of the SG, and they were the ones who discussed and organised most of the disputes activities. Some of these included: seizing and occupying the plant; setting up, running and co-ordinating the 24-hour picketing rotas on four gates into the factory; they were first to suggest picketing the local car dealership; as was going to Bridgend to picket the main Ford production plant - which many felt was the one action that brought Ford to the negotiating table. The SG actively backed such initiatives.

Liaising with the workers more
Although we held the first meeting of the support group at the factory (and one further meeting), the rest of the SG meetings were in Tottenham some 3 or 4 miles away from the plant. There were reasons for this: the plant was difficult to get to at night for supporters without their own transport (whereas most, but not all, workers had their own transport); HSG appeared to be the nearest significant community-based group involved and had access to a room the SG could use in Tottenham. The meetings at the factory had a number of workers at them, as they were around anyway, but in Tottenham, workers attended only 3 out of the 6 meetings. As most workers had cars of their own, transport was not the problem. It was probably a failure of us as the SG to do more to encourage workers to attend these meetings - and try and make sure they came along. The bigger failure, felt by a number of SG was that we didn't have the meetings outside the factory. This meant the SG was often working in relative isolation from the workers. Many of us regularly attended and staffed picket lines and talked to workers, but this is not the same as organised discussions between the SG and workers reps.

However, there were difficulties with the one evening meeting that was organised outside the factory. A number of workers wanted to air their annoyance with the factory owners, and also their concerns over a lack of communication with their own shop stewards and elected Union representatives, so the meeting became more of a "sounding-off" event rather than an organising meeting. This was a useful discussion but as a consequence SG practicalities weren't able to be dealt with. We also tried Saturday noon rallies, but these didn't really take off. There were pros and cons for meetings at either venue, and we feel Support Groups in the future need to think carefully what they want early on.

But, one thing that seemed to come out of the meeting outside the factory gates was that a number of the workers decided to try and improve their own internal communications. As a result a bulletin board was displayed at each gate, and one of the picket reps started preparing and distributing their own regular 'Enfield Plant News' bulletins [see appendix two for example]. Six such bulletins were produced and were useful for workers not in the "main group" (i.e. those closest to the convenor). They contained a basic supply of information about ongoing events, including the deputation to Ford's Bridgend factory, the action at car dealers and news of the convenor standing in the Euro elections for No2EU. Number 5, on 6th May, outlined the details of the company offer for those on all three types of contract and the result of the vote. Such info was crucial.

As the workers were not having regular collective meetings of their own, and were split between 5 or 6 shifts at 3 (and at times 4) gates around the factory, it was difficult for us to link in with the workers in any real ongoing co-ordinated fashion. A number of SG people did suggest to workers they should have daily/regular meetings once the picket lines were running, but this never happened. This was a problem for both the workers organisation of their dispute, and for contact between the workers and SG. What happened in the end was that certain SG people made individual contacts with certain workers [see more details below] and this is how the campaign/dispute progressed. This was far from ideal as it meant not all those actively involved in the dispute had access to all the information and decision-making. A hierarchy started to develop within the workers, which towards the end of the dispute caused some friction within the workforce. With hindsight, we should probably have tried harder to explain why we thought these meetings were important.

We never really managed to properly convey to the majority of the workers what the SG was and what it was doing, or indeed what our take was on the direction, tactics or politics of the dispute. Our guess is if we took a poll after the dispute, most workers would not have known much about the SG apart from we were the people who occasionally turned up to help with picket duty, and raised some money. We agreed that those going to the factory take copies of the SG meetings' minutes to the picket lines to let the workers know what we were doing. This happened late in the dispute and only really happened regularly because of one person's determination that it should. With hindsight we should have got more information to a lot more workers about the role of the SG. One suggestion, after the dispute was over, was that we could have prepared a one page summary after every meeting or event, printed it out on different coloured paper and given it out in bulk copies at the picket lines.

Another possible way to improve communications could have been to have an accessible SG space very near the picket line. In the past, strikers have used cafés, community centres, rooms in pubs, etc. For a short period the workers had a caravan parked right outside the workplace as their makeshift office and this seemed extremely useful facility for the workers themselves. Again with hindsight, it may have been useful for us to have something similar. Although the SG did put up it's own noticeboard, we are not sure how many workers looked at this. It seems fair to say that our communication with most of the workers was not perfect.

Getting all supporters to co-ordinate efforts
There were many independent support initiatives in London and around the UK (and abroad), but the SG was the only mechanism set up to co-ordinating this effort. We heard that the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and the Socialist Party (SP) were each doing separate support work of their own, including taking workers around other workplaces to speak at union meetings and raising money, but they rarely gave us any information about what they were doing. The 2 groups rarely attended SG meetings despite SG efforts to welcome and include all supporters, even changing the SG meeting days to avoid clashes with SWP meetings. Individuals within the SG have different views as to whether it was good or bad that these two organisations didn't get actively involved in the SG. We would probably never get a collective view on this. But, one failing was that we as the SG did not have ongoing, practical contact with these political parties. So, we rarely managed to co-ordinate our actions with them or know what they were doing. They however did know what the SG were doing as there was an email discussion list from day one of the dispute for any supporters, and a number of SWP and SP members were on this, as were some of the workers themselves. All SG meetings' minutes were circulated and regular news updates posted.

Other communication tactics
We tried to set up an "emergency phone tree" in case of urgent support needed at the factory. This didn't really come together and supporters tended to just call their own contacts, or send out mass texts and emails when we needed to mobilise a number of people. Maybe as emails are used so widely, this didn't matter. However, not everybody reads emails regularily and there is definitely a case for a well organised phone tree for mobilising people quickly.

Within a few days of the occupation, we had printed and paid for at least 5,000 leaflets - we checked text with the workers via our contact inside the factory. This approved leaflet was widely distributed by the workers and was reprinted a number of times (totalling over 20,000) with updated info. We had a bank account for donations ready within a couple of days and on request had produced banners and other publicity for the workers. Due to the networks that members of the SG were already in, we were able to disseminate information very quickly. A website was set up quite quickly (although there were teething problems) as was an SG email list. A lot of this (but by no means all) was achievable because of the already established network and contacts of Haringey Solidarity Group (HSG). Having a local independent community-based activist group near the factory meant we were able to encourage, co-ordinate and sustain support and mobilise existing networks and resources. We say this not to promote any one group over another, but just to point out this key practical fact.

We could go into each of these successes in much greater detail. But, we think it is sufficient to say that any future support group for any group of workers in struggle should implement these elements from as early as practically possible. Having banners and leaflets ready is great for any pickets, demos, publicity and means support work can kick into activity from day one. People (especially outside the catchment area of a dispute) want to help, and sending money and messages of solidarity is a way they can do this. Having a bank account not controlled by the union hierarchy means workers have access to their own funds to further the dispute in the way they choose. Ultimately it seems preferable of course that workers in dispute collectively set up and run their own account, for practical reasons as well as for autonomy's sake, but in this day and age bank accounts are not that easy to set up quickly.

A website in this day and age is essential - it means daily information can be spread far and wide, and keep huge numbers of people informed and up to date. The email list allowed us to share information, keep discussions going between meetings and let all supporters know what was going on. Again essential from day one. Notices, updates, minutes or discussion of the activities of SG were circulated by email which went out to over 100 activists around both London and the UK (and which could be forwarded to their own groups' members), which meant people could participate even if they couldn't get down to the factory or attend the meetings.

However, for some people there was just too much information - about 20 emails a day - and, after a while, a second email list was set up for those just wanting regular updates about the strike but who didn't want loads of emails each day. However this should probably have been set up earlier.

A number of people sent short videos, from phones or cameras to YouTube and this played a big part in publicising the dispute. There were also films made of all stages and at all three Visteon factories and events, which gave a brilliant perspective of the dispute.
"Reel News", a video news project, were also present in the SG and were on site regularly. They put together a 20-minute DVD of the initial occupation which had a number of screenings around the country to publicise the dispute and raise money for it. Others set up Facebook sites, or organised solidarity meetings and activities.

International contacts and publicity
Within the wider SG, we were able to translate the first workers leaflet into a number of languages (French, Germany, Spanish, Turkish, and Polish). We also emailed this leaflet to contacts within the UK and throughout Europe and other parts of the world. Within days, the dispute was known by hundreds of thousands of people. A special leaflet for Ford workers was also drafted, translated and distributed. A number of solidarity pickets happened at Visteon and Ford factories outside London and also outside the UK - thus showing Visteon, Ford and the media that the campaign was both national and international. This only happened because of the wide network of contacts SG and its supporters had (mainly the anarchists and socialists).

In conjunction with the picketers, the SG produced stickers and T-shirts using the Ford logo but reading "FRAUD". These were great for publicity and were very effective especially when supporters were handing out leaflets or running stalls. Workers also produced their own T-shirts to a similar design for when they were out leafleting, collecting, or publicising the dispute.

One member of the SG, after discussions with the workers, produced two large professional-looking banners [see photo]. These were used at the factory during mass pickets/demonstrations but were extensively used when the workers or SG were on other demonstrations, pickets, and leafletting sessions. These banners massively increased the visibility of our presence at such events.

Links with workers, and picketing
We made good contacts with some of the workers, some of which are still in place. This was especially true for contacts with the workers' Treasurer (to get money to them), the workers organising the picket rotas (so we could get SG people to staff picket lines), and the worker organising for pickets to speak at meetings. But, these mainly happened on a one-to-one basis, and we didn't do very well at doing this in a more co-ordinated fashion. There were probably many reasons for this (partly due to the lack of a workers’ organisational structure to feed in to), but future SGs need to consider the issue.

There were certain shifts for the picket rota that were hard for the workers to fill. During the dispute this was normally the weekend shift from 6am to 10am. We managed to regularly get 4 to 6 people for these shifts. Again, this had a lot to do with the contacts within HSG as most (but not all) SG people who helped on these early morning shifts were either from HSG or Haringey residents. Other organisations also staffed various shifts without co-ordinating through the SG. Some visited picket lines briefly to show solidarity (or to sell party papers).

In addition the SG urged all supporters to visit the factory as often as possible. It was often said by workers on the picket line that nothing raised the morale as much as plenty of visitors at the factory gates.

Fundraising and messages of support
In order to get publicity and collect funds to keep the dispute going, we distributed a draft model Trade Union resolution written within the first few weeks and this was agreed by the workers. We managed to circulate this extremely widely through the variety of networks SG members were involved in. This included every branch of the NUT and every Trades Council branch which SG members had access to. As we had limited contact with either the SWP or the SP we cannot be sure whether they circulated it, or used their own - they may well have been giving finances separately to the workers. If the dispute had carried on longer we would have contacted a number of other Trade Union branches, as SG members were starting to get branch lists from their own trade unions - outside of the official channels.

With hindsight, it would have been good to move a lot quicker on this aspect as it brought in a lot of money and messages of solidarity - both much needed by the workers. Perhaps for future disputes we should have a database of union branches which we can send model resolutions to. Between £3,000 and £4,000 was donated to the SG bank account - all of which reached the workers within days of the SG receiving it. Other donations were given directly to the picketers' treasurer. The SG organised a major leafleting/collection at a local Tottenham vs West Ham football match, and many supporters also held benefits, public meetings and workplace and street collections.

This was really important, as the workers own union (Unite) gave hardly any money to the dispute. Most of the costs for travel, food, and all basic things needed by the workers on the picket lines came from donations. There is an argument that without these independent funds, the dispute may not have been able to continue for as long as it did and result in the victory for the workers. The Union's lack of financial and other support to members who have been paying their subs for years angered many of the workers and supporters - although the majority of the SG were not surprised in the light of experiences in some past disputes.

At the end of the dispute, the workers used some of the money raised to reimburse the SG for all its outstanding costs.

Picket-line updates
We convinced the workers to set up bulletin boards at each of the three gates where pickets were happening to enable information and updates to be displayed. As already noted, we did belatedly start taking plenty of copies of minutes of the SG meetings to put on these boards.

The workers also started to produce their own regular bulletin which was left at each of the gates. This was a very positive step, but probably could have been done earlier and more often - it was really useful for those workers who were not in the "inner circle" of active pickets.

Joint workers/supporters protest
The protest picket of the KPMG offices [see appendix 3] was an excellent joint initiative. We discussed with some of the workers whether there should also be a protest picket of Unite's offices to demand financial and industrial support, but it was considered a sensitive issue which risked them ending up on bad terms with the union. Such protests might have become essential had the dispute continued longer. After the vote to accept the redundancy deal, the SG meetings tailed off and supporters generally failed to rise to the new challenge of the need for continued support for the Visteon Pensions Action Group VPAG) activities. However, the SG email list has continued to publicise the VPAG, as well as some other workplace disputes.

Following the workers vote to accept the redundancy terms and end the picketing, some of the workers launched a Visteon Pensions Action Group to fight for full Ford pension rights on top of the redundancy payments. They continue to picket Ford car dealerships and organise protests and publicity.

The SG, we feel, was very useful to the workers. On a general level it gave them solidarity and we know it made them feel more positive about the dispute and kept their spirits up. On a more practical level we brought some useful organisational skills and resources that many of the workers had lost over the years of political and Union inactivity. We don't mean this as criticism or arrogance, but as there had been very little industrial action for many years at the plant and in workplaces generally, some key campaigning skills need to be re-kindled.

Without a group like HSG nearby, the SG may not have been so effective. A number of SG members were not in HSG or Haringey and a lot of the work of the SG was done by these supporters. But, keeping the SG going, taking on finances, trying to fill picketing rotas, arranging SG meetings etc was done to a great extent by members of HSG (and people they had close ties with). This shows that a group with an established structure, resources and contacts makes organising easier. In some Support Groups for previous disputes the local Trades Council has carried out this role. Many organisations did send reps to the SG meetings [see list at end], and this added credibility, effectiveness and success to the group.

That said, it was the workers’ anger and determination to get justice that was the heart and soul of the dispute hour by hour, day by day. The workers taught us a huge amount. The speed at which they set the picket lines up, organised a rota and worked out finances, and food and fuel runs put many a political group or campaign to shame. Some of us would have to have endless meetings before we could agree who was to do what.

Having a link into the workers helped the SG develop more than we can imagine. This could either be a supporter in the occupation as we had, or direct contacts within the workforce. This meant from the start we were able to build trust with the workers and could set up direct communication with them. Eventually we established excellent working relationships with a number of the Visteon picket-line reps and workers. With this happening we were able to move forward quickly with tasks needed. It can only be a huge advantage for future disputes if local grassroots community organisations and workplace links could be established wherever we are both active.

Looking back, we would say the SG was often slow to react in the first few weeks, only getting properly organised after the initial occupation was over. Apart from the need to develop good communications between supporters and workers, there was the early uncertainty about how long the dispute might last. A key additional reason for delay could have been that we have forgotten how to start up and run a support group. It felt like we were re-inventing the wheel at times. For example we set up a number of sub-groups of the SG, but this took us a few weeks to put into place. In future we would suggest these need to be up and running within days. It is not rocket science. We know what things needed to be done, and some we did, but others took longer. Things like: website sub group to put website into place; email list from day one; media and publicity group, probably split into local/national/international; finance group; fundraising group; industrial solidarity group; co-ordination group to deal with things like speakers, meetings etc. Different disputes will require some tweaking.

Finally though, we would say the SG did a solid job with few resources (money and people). It was a learning experience both for the workers and the supporters and a huge amount was achieved in a small space of time. But, as these disputes start to happen more regularly, SGs will have to be set up more regularly too. Hopefully, they will not have to reinvent the wheel every time and can kick into action a lot quicker in the future to help build solidarity for workplace disputes.

This is perfectly illustrated by the Vestas wind-turbine workers who, almost immediately after the Visteon pickets ended, occupied their own plant on the Isle of Wight to try to prevent closure. This followed organised and systematic support work in the area (including by London people, some of who'd taken part in the Visteon SG activities). Vestas supporters encouraged the workers to 'do a Visteon', and arranged visits from Visteon workers to meet Vestas workers.

The 18-day Vestas occupation led to a red/green solidarity camp outside the plant, a nearby 11-day rooftop occupation of a Vestas research facility by climate activists, national days of action all over the UK, massive publicity and public debate about the need for 'green jobs' and renewable energy sources. Bearing in mind the current economic and environmental crises, we can expect and look forward to an upsurge in resistance in workplaces and local communities.

The Credits
This pamphlet was written in line with what was agreed at a final open meeting on 2nd July of Support Group members including 2 Visteon workers. It contains contributions from Tony, Nico, Alan and Dave of Haringey Solidarity Group. Whilst expressing our own views and experiences we have tried to be accurate and fair to all, but do not claim to speak for the whole Support Group, Haringey Solidarity Group or for the Visteon workers themselves.
Representatives and members of the following organisations attended one or more of the Support Group meetings (in order as minuted): Imperial College UNITE; Action East End; Haringey Socialist Workers Party; N & E London Solidarity Federation; London Coalition Against Poverty; Camden Anarchists; Haringey Solidarity Group; Islington Health UNISON; Visteon workers / UNITE; Haringey UNISON; London Climate Camp; Haringey TUC; National Shop Stewards Network; Barnet TUC; No Sweat; Workers Liberty; Workers Climate Action; Haringey Respect; Socialist Resistance; Camden UNISON; Camden TUC; Haringey Green Party; Barnet Socialist Party; University College Union; Ramparts Social Centre; Reel News; Hackney UNISON; Hackney Solidarity Network.

We also acknowledge all the support and solidarity work carried out by a wide range of other individuals and organisations across the UK.

But most importantly we pay tribute to the inspirational action and efforts of the Visteon workers themselves, and their fight for justice.

This pamphlet has been published by Haringey Solidarity Group

Further information about the dispute available from:
Webpages & articles:
Pamphlet: Ford Visteon Enfield Workers Occupation - an eyewitness account. Read it or download it online:

Pamphlet: Past Tense: Report and reflections on the 2009 UK Ford Visteon dispute. Useful account of all the factories involved.
Pamphlet: Visteon - How workers occupied and won. SWP. [No mention of the Support Group]
Pamphlet: Lindsey, Visteon, Linamar. Socialist Party. [No mention of the Support Group]
Solidarity - the trade union magazine issue 25: Phil Wilson: We knew we had nothing to lose. ex-Ford Visteon shop steward tells the story.

This is the original suggestion from HSG offering support to the workers inside the occupied factory:


A few of us were on the solidarity picket today of your factory. After talking to some of the workers about what you needed and thought useful, we would like to offer some practical support. We will not be offended if you don't want any, or all, of these offers of support. Basically we are just trying to think of ways to help the ideas some of you have come up with.

1 Some workers were saying there was a need for financial support. You are getting loads locally but we could help by opening this up throughout the country. We have no idea what the level of support will be but are happy to try for you.

2 If financial support does come in, you will need somewhere people and groups can send money, and this will probably be by cheque. So, you will need a bank account and address for money to be sent to. We are happy for you to use one of our bank accounts (as it takes months to set up an account from scratch) and our postal address. We would then be happy to collect and bank the money and get it to you in cash. As you don't know anything about us, I have enclosed a few bits showing what we do and who we are. Alan Woodward who is in occupation with you is part of our group, so could tell you more.

3 We thought it might be good to email around the country asking for people to leaflet outside their nearest Ford dealership. We did this today, as one of the workers suggested it. We had a placard saying "support the Visteon Workers". Loads of cars were bibbing their horns in support., and anybody passing was really interested in what you were doing and why. The managers (5 of them) came out and were not happy with us even when we explained why we were doing it. They thought their trade would go down, and said they would be emailing or calling Ford head office on Monday asking what the hell was going on. We can email a copy of the leaflet you wrote and we designed and got printed for today.

4 We would be happy to set up an email address for you, and we can email around the country asking people to send messages of support to this email address. You, the workers, would be in control of this email address and can look at the messages of support via the computer you have in the factory.

If anybody is uneasy about a group you know little about holding the money, although hopefully Alan will argue our case, as a second solution you could use the Haringey Trades Council's bank account. The only slight problem with this is that Alan is a cheque signatory and he is in the factory with you all the time.

Just let Alan know what you think, and he can contact us.

All the best from us at Haringey Solidarity Group

1930s Ford move to UK
? Ford acquire Autolite, spark plug manufacturer, Ponders End, Enfield.
2000 Autolite workers transferred to Visteon
2007 Managers pensions safeguarded, transfer to Visteon Engineering Service
January Automotive Products Ltd set up, 50,000 shares transferred
31 March Ford Visteon announce company going into administration and immediate closure.
31 March Belfast workers refuse to move off site, and occupy their workplace
1 April Enfield workers occupy their factory
Basildon workers occupy but are forced out
Enfield workers’ support leaflet written and approved inside the plant
2 April Bailiffs attempt to deliver injunction but fail
3 April Reporters on site but practically nothing on national news
Eviction hearing in High Court
4 April Day of Action. Big crowds surround part of factory. 50 attend first meeting of Support Group (SG) outside the factory gate
5 April Meeting of workers inside factory accepts their national union's advice to leave factory
HSG bank account starts to be used for donations
6 April Shop stewards appear in High Court case. Large solidarity protest outside. SG members prepare document questioning pressure to end the occupation.
7 April Speakers from Belfast and South Wales speak at a workers meeting. Donations begin to arrive via the bank account.
8 April Shop stewards report that Unite says Ford promises money on table, picketing rota drawn up.
9 April Workers leave the occupation to 300-strong, noisy solidarity rally.
Caravan set up at workers’ "office". Round-the-clock picketing begins immediately
14 April Ford Visteon's attempt to move out machinery thwarted by workers and supporters
16 April Ford Visteon's derisory redundancy offer rejected by workers. Picketing planned for profitable Ford Bridgend factory
24 April First picket bulletin produced by workers
28 April Ford Visteon reverse tactics and offer much improved payment but nothing about workers’ pensions agreement
1 May Workers vote to accept package at Enfield and Basildon
KPMG office picketed and leafleted by SG and workers after May Day march
3 May Belfast workers vote to accept the offer. Picketing continues
15 May Dispute formally ended. Picketing and occupation ended at all three plants. Large gathering of workers, family and supporters in victory march from factory gates.
16 May RAMPart benefit, E1 proves an excellent money raiser
20 May Last full meeting of SG
1 June Visteon Pensions Action Group formed: action (eg. regular protests at Ford dealerships, lobbies of Union HQ) continues until workers get their proper pension entitlement from the company.



14 years 5 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Steven. on December 12, 2009

many thanks for posting this up here - I've been meaning to do it but haven't had time.


14 years 5 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Titorelli on December 14, 2009

As a member of Unite I'm deeply shocked that we gave no money to your dispute. I was led to understand that the Chair of the Region, along with the regional secretary and other FTOs spent hundreds of pounds in a nearby Tesco superstore on provisions such as sleeping bags, food, drinks etc; oh yes, and that the Regional Committee also voted a £5,000 hardship payment to the Visteon workers; I know for a fact that my Branch sent a cheque, because I signed the thing; and, I also made individual donations to the hardship fund at Unite meetings.

Once again, I’m sorry to hear that Unite members let you down financially.

Red Marriott

14 years 5 months ago

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Submitted by Red Marriott on December 14, 2009

I think after the occupation ended - which the union leadership were keen to see end - some money was given. But this was, I believe, around 3 weeks into the dispute and after workers expressed a growing fury with the lack of support from Unite (there was a video of workers on the Enfield picket doing this but I can't find it online now). The lack of basic resources in the early days - which the union could have easily provided - was plain to see.


14 years 5 months ago

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Submitted by JoeMaguire on December 14, 2009

Once again, I’m sorry to hear that Unite members let you down financially.

Surely the union bureaucracy let the occupiers down.

Submitted by Titorelli on December 14, 2009

I think after the occupation ended - which the union leadership were keen to see end - some money was given. But this was, I believe, around 3 weeks into the dispute and after workers expressed a growing fury with the lack of support from Unite (there was a video of workers on the Enfield picket doing this but I can't find it online now). The lack of basic resources in the early days - which the union could have easily provided - was plain to see.

So, you're saying that the regional Chair along with the regional secretary and some FTO's didn't go along to a local Tesco superstore and spend several hundred pounds on food and equipment during the occupation?

£5,000 was pledged by the regional committee when it met on 21 April.

Red Marriott

14 years 5 months ago

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Submitted by Red Marriott on December 15, 2009

So, you're saying that the regional Chair along with the regional secretary and some FTO's didn't go along to a local Tesco superstore and spend several hundred pounds on food and equipment during the occupation?

I'm not the author of the article above, and haven't claimed that sleeping bags etc weren't bought; I don't know, but never heard anyone mention it at the time or since - but I did hear much resentment from workers at the general lack of material support from the union. If you are really interested I can ask an occupier about it.

£5,000 was pledged by the regional committee when it met on 21 April.

If you do your arithmetic; occupation began 1st April - 21st April is 3 weeks later, as I said. If that's the case, one can see why pickets were annoyed that, as 80-90 of them first occupied and then maintained 24hr picket lines, all they got from Unite for 3 weeks was some sleeping bags and a bit of food and drink.


14 years 5 months ago

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Submitted by Steven. on December 15, 2009

it's particularly outrageous considering that the union branches and individuals donated thousands of pounds to the official unite dispute fund, which didn't make it to the workers in time to actually help them in their dispute.

(Not that I'm surprised, however, because that's how the unions act)

Especially when you consider that the 200 workers there have mostly been union members for 20-odd years, and at £10 a month that works out as £480,000 they paid in union dues over that time.

Red Marriott

14 years 5 months ago

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Submitted by Red Marriott on December 15, 2009

the 200 workers there have mostly been union members for 20-odd years, and at £10 a month that works out as £480,000 they paid in union dues over that time.

In perspective; this is little more than 2 years salary for Unite boss Derek Simpson.


14 years 5 months ago

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Submitted by varlet on December 16, 2009

The article doesnt say Unite gave nothing, it says

the workers own union (Unite) gave hardly any money to the dispute

It's not really a question of knowing whether they went to Tesco one morning or not anyway. As was said, whatever Unite gave was (way) too little and too late.

Speaking to the workers on the picket line, there was certainly a lot of resentment against Unite.
The workers i spoke with were generally as overwhelmed with the community's generosity, groups or individual's donations as they were disgusted by the union's behaviour and lack of support.
Many felt betrayed after having given them membership money for over 20 years.
And rightly so.

But its not just about money anyway. Unite never gave the workers any real moral support either. They didnt give them legal advice when they were occupying. Quite the contrary. As was said again, they were keen to see the occupation end. As the Reel News film about the occupation shows, at a meeting inside the plant they scared the workers in order to make them leave the building, before any deal was even getting close to being reached.

No wonder some workers considered that the only thing Unite ever did to support the struggle was plant their flags on the roof before taking the French leave so to speak.
All throughout the occupation and pickets, there was no mention of the struggle at all on Unite's website. On the day a deal was found - thanks to the worker's resilience - Unite was however quick to publish a news flash saying the union had won yet another victory.

Think this shows clearly that unions will never support certain type of actions, deemed too radical or on which they have limited or no control. It shows them in their true light: bureaucratic structures that are only ready to go through the ruling classes' channels to make exploitation more acceptable.