The occupation of the Visteon plant in Belfast is now into its third week.
Michael, one of the occupiers, told Socialist Worker, “The support that has have emerged in the last fortnight has been fantastic. Ordinary people – Protestant and Catholic – have come together.
“We have a good union structure, which has made the occupation well-organised. We took over the factory in an orderly manner and if, and it is if, we give it back we will do that in an orderly manner.”
Gerry Donnelly, another occupying worker, said, “Nobody thought this would happen. But if we had walked out of the gate when they announced the closure that would have been the end of it.”
In reference to the Troubles in Northern Ireland, Gerry said, “Workers here walked through riots and shootings to work in the factory. We are not giving it up easily.
“Donations come in every day. One guy came up to the gate, handed over £400 and didn’t even leave his name.
“We had a family fun day to let people know we are here for the long haul and to get the local community involved. “
Hundreds of supporters marched through West Belfast to support the workers on Wednesday of last week.
Unite union regional secretary Jimmy Kelly told the rally, “It is not right that they have used public money to develop products and then moved the work elsewhere.”
The Northern Ireland state gave Visteon bosses over £90,000, as part of the “dividend” that came with the peace process.
John Maguire, the Unite convenor, told Socialist Worker, “The bosses thought they were just attacking 210 hard working people and their families.
“But they attacked a whole community. There will be justice for the workers.”
The workers held protests at Ford showrooms across Northern Ireland last weekend.
John said, “We’re not going to rest until Ford sorts out the pensions and keeps the agreements it made.
“We plan to take these protests all round Ireland. I hope the workers in England will do the same there.We want the plant reopened.
“We have a full order book. If they can’t reopen it they must ensure the factory is closed using the proper mechanism – that means proper redundancy terms and pensions.”
A rally for jobs, called by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, had been called for Friday of this week.