Workers at Visteon's Enfield plant who went into occupation on Wednesday are furious at the way they have been treated by their management.
The site employs over 200 workers producing car parts for Jaguar and Land Rover. On Tuesday workers were called into a meeting at 2pm – and told their jobs were gone.
Around 80 workers occupied the building on Wednesday morning and remained there throughout the day. They are staying overnight. More workers, locked out by the company, stayed outside the site to show their support.
Workers were told that they would not be paid for last week's work at the meeting on Tuesday. Many have no savings and no idea of how they are going to make ends meet over the next few weeks.
'They've treated us like dogs,' Richard Bruce, who had worked at the site for 17 years, told Socialist Worker. 'We're not even going to get paid for our last week's work or for our work on Monday and Tuesday. But the workers in Ireland occupied – so we thought, now it's our turn to do something.'
Many of the workers felt that the attack was preplanned – even though they had no notice of it themselves. Several said that vans from factories supplied by Visteon had taken away their tools from the site last Friday.
One worker, Terry, said, 'Even the vending machines were emptied yesterday morning. Everyone knew we were going to be sacked.
'There are parts piled up inside our factory. They've made sure that the car plants can still be supplied – everything's been prepared for this.'
Narayan Mitra agreed. 'I had a feeling it would close,' he told Socialist Worker. 'They kept telling us they were making a loss. But then why not do something about it? They've just run it down. I've worked here for over 20 years and I feel betrayed by Ford.'
Although the workers are employed by Visteon, the plant used to be owned by Ford until it was sold in 2000. But many workers are still employed on a Ford contract – which includes a promise of no compulsory redundancies.
'I signed the agreement in 2000 to guarantee Ford terms and conditions for these workers,' Steve Hart, the regional secretary of the Unite union, told Socialist Worker.
A new management at the site has made several changes over the past few years, introducing shift changes and other initiatives. 'My brother works here and he lost £600 a month with the shift changes,' said Terry.
'We could have said no to these changes, but we didn't. We've done everything they asked of us – and now they treat us like this. We want what we're owed. And we want to be treated according to our Ford terms and conditions.'
Throughout the day trade unionists arrived at the occupation to show solidarity and support. Every trade unionist should rush donations and messages of support to the Visteon workers.
Send messages of support to firstname.lastname@example.org
Text messages of support to Des (Basildon) 07814432215 John (Belfast) 07816 590 380 Kevin (Enfield) 07956 375 410.
Download the » Visteon workers collection sheet
Download Socialist Worker's » Visteon leaflet