Hundreds rallied at the Visteon car components factory in Enfield, north London, this morning in support of workers who have been occupying the site since being sacked on Wednesday.
With just minutes notice, management told over 200 workers at the factory – which makes parts for Jaguar, Land Rover and Ford – that their jobs were no more.
Many Visteon workers were employed on contracts with Ford – which owned the company until 2000. The contracts guaranteed no compulsory redundancies and Ford terms and conditions for life.
The Visteon workers are demanding that management honours these contracts. They plan to visit other Ford plants over the next few days to argue for solidarity action across Ford.
Phil Wilson is one of those occupying. “The solidarity we've been shown just never ends,” he told Socialist Worker. “I thought it might fizzle out after a couple of days but it keeps coming.
“Two women came yesterday and said, we saw you on the news and wanted to show our support. They handed us £20 through the gate!
“Our determination is getting stronger. Why would we leave the factory now? Everyone here has gone through sleepless nights – we're not doing it for nothing.”
Workers came from a number of trade unions – including the RMT, PCS, UCU, NUT, Unite and Unison – to show their support for the occupation. Visteon workers from Basildon in Essex, who have also been protesting after losing their jobs, also joined the Enfield rally, along with workers from Ford’s Dagenham plant.
Students from across London also joined the rally.
Paul Rees studies at Kingston University. He joined the workers’ occupation on Friday morning. “It's important that these workers know they are being supported and that people care,” he told Socialist Worker.
“I was at the protests at the G20 on Thursday and coming here seemed like the obvious thing to do next.”
The day saw some fantastic displays of solidarity.
NCP parking wardens drove in to ask people to move their cars. But after workers explained the reasons behind the occupation and why they were there, they apologised and wished them luck.
A group of people from the Kurdish group Halk Cephesi turned up with crates of fruit and bottled water for the occupation. They said that they didn't know the workers but that it was important to show support because “we're workers too”.
Steve Hart, the regional officer for the Visteon workers’ Unite union, addressed the rally, saying, “Nothing can stop our solidarity. Messages of support have been flooding in from all over the country.
“This union will not stop in its support for our members.”
The president of the south east region TUC also spoke. “We want to stand shoulder to shoulder with these workers who have stopped the employer in their tracks,” he said. “They have faced an enormous provocation – and today shows that the trade union movement is not in the mood to put up with it.”
The fightback by Visteon workers sets a fantastic example for the whole trade union movement. They urgently need support and solidarity to help them win it.
Visteon workers in Basildon are planning a protest at 11am tomorrow morning.
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