Workers occupy Visteon Factory - updates and discussion

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pegleg
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May 15 2009 22:58

Reuters just announced Ford assumes $163 million asset-based loan for Visteon!
Taking back control?
Visteon UK Pensions (ex Ford? open for further discussion?)

http://www.reuters.com/article/bondsNews/idUSN1526837320090515

varlet
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May 17 2009 15:00

The Visteon ex-workers will end the picket of their factory tomorrow. It is part of the accepted deal that all three plants (Belfast, Basildon, Enfield) have to be vacated tomorrow Monday 18 May by 12.45pm.

I believe it also says on a letter they all received (stating how much money they are going to get) that there needs to be 5 clear days following the end of the occupation/pickets before Visteon actually pays the money. As they all have this in writing, the workers i spoke to this morning seemed pretty confident that the deal was going to be honoured.

So most workers will be coming tomorrow in the morning to clear all the tents and stuff, and will officially bring the picket to an end at 12.45pm.

This is the end of a major stage in their struggle, which seems to be generally regarded as victorious.
The workers i spoke to anyway said they got more than they were expecting, but then this may vary depending on people's personal situations or contracts.
The other stage in the struggle is the pension, but it seems that most of this will be dealt with through a legal process.

The people i spoke to were also clear about one thing. Whatever they got they owe it to themselves and not the union. They initiated the struggle themselves, they kept it going, and while they were grateful and full of praise for the support they got from various groups and individuals, they were well aware that Unite have been giving them very little, if no practical help or moral support.

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Red Marriott
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May 17 2009 17:01

At the Visteon benefit last night at Ramparts an ex-worker spoke, a 'CCR' - the group of ex-workers with different non-Ford contracts who are getting a significantly worse settlement. He expressed strong grievances on behalf of the CCRs; that the other workers were not sticking it out to get a better deal for CCRs (and that 98% of CCRs had been involved in occupation & pickets, compared to a far lower percentage of workers getting better deals, many of whom stayed at home until the deal was reached). He said there would be a meeting today(?) about this - and that there was similar feeling in Belfast. He suggested the possibility that some might insist on staying picketting/in occupation to improve the offer to CCRs, which was quite a suprise to hear. I really doubt that will happen - it would break the terms of the settlement if it did and so jeopardise payments.
But it's unfortunate that some are leaving the dispute with such hard feelings. Part of the reason for this is probably;
1) through the dispute workers didn't hold enough regular general meetings so they could insist on being fully informed of what was developing and could discuss it between themselves as a whole group. So, eg, at Enfield cliques around certain gates formed (people tending to always be picketting on the same gates), without enough contact/debate between all workers.
2) Prior to the vote, the union didn't give people a printed document of settlement terms and time enough to consider the deal, discuss and seek advice on it and what it meant for each individual and for different groups of ex-workers. This rushing through of acceptance was clearly deliberate by the union, as was the arrangement whereby Belfast voted after Enfield & Basildon.

One of the benefit organisers said; "The benefit last night made £375 and we thought it would be good to give it to the CCR's who got stitched up- either to help carry on their struggle in any way or just as a bit to help with costs, as they got the crappiest pay out. There are 30 of them at the Enfield plant so it wouldn't go that far between them but I will be at the picket/walk-out tomorrow so can talk to people there to find out what is best to do with the money

One of the visteon workers there last night was telling me that bloody Unite are getting £500 out of all the workers' payments! Obviously that money should be going to the CCR's instead; given most of them did all the hard work for the fight and Unite did jack. The person who said this was on an old Ford contract himself but totally supported the CCR's. The speech made at the benefit, by a CCR who'd been a shop steward at Enfield for a year, was really angry and upset about the way they've been left out in the cold, not getting solidarity needed from those on the better contracts. Apparently the amount needed to cover the CCR's isn't that much as there are so few of them across the plants; the deal Unite negotiated is just totally divisive- yet they're stealing £500 from each worker for it!"

So if the 610 workers pay £500 each to the union, the union profits by £305,000 - screwing every last penny out of their members while they still can. It has been rumoured that in Belfast those ex-workers on Ford contracts will each chip in a donation to give to the CCRs as partial compensation for their smaller settlement.

Edit; other workers apparently see the disparity issue differently; the CCRs are getting twice the rate of redundancy per year served than the ex ford workers and this is seen by some of the other workers as partially mitigating the fact they will receive lower payments overall.
Edit 2; though the info above about Unite taking £500 from each payment came from an ex-worker prior to receiving their settlement, apparently in fact no money was deducted by Unite.

raw
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May 17 2009 17:35

"The benefit last night made £375 and we thought it would be good to give it to the CCR's who got stitched up- either to help carry on their struggle in any way or just as a bit to help with costs, as they got the crappiest pay out."

Fair enuff but sounds like charity to me not solidarity. I disagree with money being given to finance workers like this, it is counter-productive and builds a dependency.

The unite stuff sounds disgusting. I think having a mass picket at unite might send the message home and embarrass them. They have shown to be the bosses friend and collaborator.

a

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Django
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May 17 2009 18:09
raw wrote:
"The benefit last night made £375 and we thought it would be good to give it to the CCR's who got stitched up- either to help carry on their struggle in any way or just as a bit to help with costs, as they got the crappiest pay out."

Fair enuff but sounds like charity to me not solidarity. I disagree with money being given to finance workers like this, it is counter-productive and builds a dependency.

The unite stuff sounds disgusting. I think having a mass picket at unite might send the message home and embarrass them. They have shown to be the bosses friend and collaborator.

a

Whats your reasoning here? The (small, unfortunately) amount we raised in Manchester was to help 'finance' the workers in an important struggle, and donations to cover tough economic circumstances have always been part of solidarity. I don't think its appropriate to talk of 'dependency' with workers who have taken brave and militant action like this either.

raw
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May 17 2009 20:40
Django wrote:
raw wrote:
"The benefit last night made £375 and we thought it would be good to give it to the CCR's who got stitched up- either to help carry on their struggle in any way or just as a bit to help with costs, as they got the crappiest pay out."

Fair enuff but sounds like charity to me not solidarity. I disagree with money being given to finance workers like this, it is counter-productive and builds a dependency.

The unite stuff sounds disgusting. I think having a mass picket at unite might send the message home and embarrass them. They have shown to be the bosses friend and collaborator.

a

Whats your reasoning here? The (small, unfortunately) amount we raised in Manchester was to help 'finance' the workers in an important struggle, and donations to cover tough economic circumstances have always been part of solidarity. I don't think its appropriate to talk of 'dependency' with workers who have taken brave and militant action like this either.

My reasoning is how a support campaign is going to finance peoples living expenses. Its impossible to do so and tends to become a form of charity rather than solidarity. This may be a non-issue in the sense that none of the workers are considering taking the money. Hopefully they will instead opt to use it for a fighting fund in the campaign or past it on to other campaigns.

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Red Marriott
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May 17 2009 22:14
raw wrote:
sounds like charity to me not solidarity. I disagree with money being given to finance workers like this, it is counter-productive and builds a dependency.

Much of the donations have been always used for living expenses of ex-workers during the dispute - how else could they run an occupation and 24hr pickets? They have to eat! They were paid weekly by Visteon, the bosses kept them working up to the last minute knowing they wouldn't get paid their last wage packet, they have mortgages to pay etc. And some have laid out their own money for general costs to help keep the dispute going, so if they can be paid back they should be.
Forms of solidarity generally are something you have to rely on, trust others to give - so a kind of "dependency".

raw
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May 18 2009 05:36
Ret Marut wrote:
raw wrote:
sounds like charity to me not solidarity. I disagree with money being given to finance workers like this, it is counter-productive and builds a dependency.

Much of the donations have been always used for living expenses of ex-workers during the dispute - how else could run they an occupation and 24hr pickets? They have to eat! They were paid weekly by Visteon, the bosses kept them working up to the last minute knowing they wouldn't get paid their last wage packet, they have mortgages to pay etc. And some have laid out their own money for general costs to help keep the dispute going, so if they can be paid back they should be.
Forms of solidarity generally are something you have to rely on, trust others to give - so a kind of "dependency".

thanks for the clarification.

a

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PartyBucket
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May 18 2009 18:20

The Belfast workers ended their occupation today and walked out of the factory in order of years served.
For those waiting outside the gates to see them out, it was as one person commented, more like waiting for a funeral to pass than a celebration.
At a buffet at a nearby hotel, speakers vowed that action will continue for their pensions, and support was urged for Rob Williams.

MT
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Joined: 29-03-07
May 29 2009 13:33

what are the developments concerning workers in the factories? are the details of deals know already? i got lost what is going on now, what the solidarity group is doing and so...

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Choccy
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May 29 2009 13:42

Em, the worker at Basildon and Enfield voted to accept the deal that didn't have pensions, or shift work sorted, Belfast soon followed, the pickets in Basildon/Enfield and occupation in Belfast ended as stated above.

There are new rounds of talks due to start on pensions soon as far as I know.

varlet
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May 29 2009 13:53

"A good number of you have expressed a desire, in fact a need to demonstrate and lobby the Visteon Pension Trustees at their meeting on Monday 1st June at Towers Perrin Office, 71 High Holborn, London WC1V 6TP. Nearest tube is Chancery Lane on the Central Line.

This is our first opportunity to show our strength and disgust at the demeaning reduction to what is our rightful pension.
We should as one voice make it clear that we expect nothing less than Ford mirrored conditions as previously promised. This location is very visible and should give maximum exposure to our concern. We will endeavour to have the national press there.

The plan is to meet at 10.00 am outside the office block and make our feelings and concerns very clear to the Trustees attending.

Please give your support, we will be there to express our disatisfaction, join us and voice your opinions at the shabby treatment by Visteon.
Bring plenty of banners to show our feelings. "

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Choccy
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May 29 2009 14:00

cheers Nico

N. Rossi
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Jun 6 2009 11:36

Any news about the pension arrangements?

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Red Marriott
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Jun 6 2009 13:00

I heard that at the picket mentioned by Nico above the pension trustees said they'd sent a letter to Unite about the issue but had received no reply. Unite are apparently going to be pursuing a court case (possibly 2 years long) to try to secure some kind of pension settlement. If that doesn't work there is the possibility of compensation. A Basildon ex-worker also spoke and said that - though ex-workers had been led to expect 60-90% of their pensions if compensated under the government pension provision scheme - according to his calculations ex-workers might only receive 45% of their expected pensions. It became apparent that the Unite official attending to inform people of progress with the issue knew less about the govt. scheme than the worker.