Socialist Worker

Belfast bus workers stop work in support of Visteon

Issue No. 2148

Workers in Belfast marched together to rally for jobs

Workers in Belfast marched together to rally for jobs

The ongoing occupation of the Belfast Visteon plant continues, despite attempts by KPMG, the administrators, to evict the workers.

On Monday workers held a picket of the Belfast offices of the administrators. This was the latest in a series of protests by the occupying workers.

Last Friday saw up to 1,000 workers attend the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) Rally for Jobs and Workers’ Rights at Belfast City Hall in support of the Visteon workers’ occupation.

Bus services in Belfast ground to a halt for the hour of the rally as bus workers stopped work in solidarity.

A colourful march through the centre of Belfast saw workers and their families from the Visteon plant dominating the parade with placards saying “Betrayed by Ford”.

Some Ford and Visteon workers from England had travelled to Belfast to lend their support.

John Maguire, speaking for the occupying Visteon workers, vowed that they would continue to occupy the plant and fight for their jobs back, “or at least until our promises from Ford are honoured”.

Jimmy Kelly, regional secretary of Unite, said, “Legal action is being taken against the workers occupying the plant, and there may come a day when someone may try to force them out.

“They could even face jail. We must join them and support them to the hilt.”

Workers from other companies who are pushing redundancies, including Nortel, Bombardier, Nu-Track and Translink, were among the crowd.

Mark Watson, a senior shop steward with transport firm Translink, said, “Translink are climbing on the bandwagon of redundancies as well.

“They are calling for 75 redundancies across the board, and we fear that is just a start.”

Peter Bunting, assistant general secretary of the ICTU, lambasted Visteon management.

“The workers in Visteon are models of efficiency and innovation.” he said.

“They developed technology which made cars safer and contributed to the wealth of that corporation.

“What thanks did they get? Their technological innovations are now being made in South Africa.

“Their pensions are in cold storage and their futures shattered by corporate greed. This is an act of corporate mugging.”

Visteon worker Norman said, “A specific amount of money was put into the Visteon pension fund, and in recent years that fund has been in deficit.

“We want to know if it is correct that some managers at senior level were able to take their pensions out of the UK pension fund while my pension will most probably be put into the Pension Protection Fund, where I will not be able to access it until I am 65.

“That’s one reason why we are not leaving.”

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