Ford-Visteon workers in Belfast have been occupying their plant for over five weeks after they were sacked with no notice and no redundancy pay at the end of March.
Their protest, along with protests by workers at plants in Enfield, north London, and Basildon in Essex, has forced Ford to offer redundancy packages for the workers. Workers at all three plants overwhelmingly voted to accept.
Workers in Belfast spoke to Socialist Worker about how they feel about the deal.
“There is still doubt at the back of our minds. It’s a great deal, but the question we’d ask is whether it’s real or not. When the money hits the bank we’ll be happy. We are still waiting to see how we are treated by the company.
“If it comes through it’ll be worthwhile, although it has split a lot of people. The fact that CCR workers (those not previously employed by Ford) are receiving a smaller package is Visteon’s attempt to divide and conquer.
“The pension will have to be fought for legally. We are unsure of the timescale – there seems to be a lot of smoke and mirrors. We put our hand up for a deal and are not sure if we are going to get it.”
“I’m happy with it, a month ago they wanted to walk away and give us nothing.”
“I think it’s a good deal. I’ve been working here over 30 years. I have a friend who used to work in Shorts. He got £7,000 redundancy after ten years of working for them.
“The CCR guys here are getting £10,000 after fewer years working for Ford. It just proves that if you fight and stand up for your rights you’ll get a lot more.”
“I think we could have got more if the union leadership had fought harder. It shows you how bitter Ford is that, instead of giving everyone the same deal, they try to split the workforce by giving the CCR workers a far worse deal.
“It would have cost Ford nothing to give the 30 CCR guys the same deal. What I really want is my job back.”
John Maguire, Unite convenor at Belfast
“We’re all losing out here and we’d all prefer to have our jobs back. Personally I’m not happy with how the union handled the negotiations.
“We have recommended that all workers with Ford agreements make a contribution of £300 to the CCR workers.”
“Our struggle has been worthwhile – like the Waterford Crystal workers we have led the way for everybody else. We want to make other companies think twice about treating workers like this again.
“I’d like to see a new law brought in where other companies can’t treat workers like this. We hope if nothing else this fight teaches the government a lesson about multi-national companies coming in.
“The fight goes on in terms of the pension and were not giving up on them.
“Gordon Brown talks of setting aside billions for green jobs, but where is this money? We have got people with skills in our plant who could produce things like green cars. Why not use the money set aside for green projects to keep our plant open?”
“I think it’s a good deal. But they should’ve been fair across the board with the CCRs. It’s Visteon and Ford once again trying to save money by not paying out the same to every worker.
“The occupation is going to come to an end as soon as our money is in the bank. I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could throw them.
“Throughout the occupation, it has been great the way people stuck together. I thought the numbers would start to dwindle as the fight continued but people became much more resolute.”
“Hopefully our fight gives others an incentive to pursue things rather than walk away. I hope now that other people have the confidence to fight for their rights and companies are now put off treating workers in a similar way.”