Former workers at Visteon face a new battle to protect their pensions.
Magnificent protests at car components plants in Belfast, Enfield and Basildon forced the Ford multinational to offer the workers tens of thousands of pounds in redundancy packages after Visteon failed earlier this year.
But the question of pensions was not resolved and all the people in the company’s pension scheme could lose up to half of their entitlements.
Similar problems confront hundreds of thousands of other people across Britain.
The Visteon UK pension scheme, which has 3,000 members, is in deficit and could be brought into the government’s Pension Protection Fund (PPF).
This will hit the 1,000 scheme members who are already drawing their pensions. The other 2,000 will have to wait until they are 65 before they are able to get any pension.
When Visteon was spun off from Ford in 2000, the company and the T&G (now Unite) trade union assured workers that “Visteon would establish a Pension Fund that mirrored the benefits that are available to Ford employees, both now and in the future”.
The workers are demanding that Ford meets its responsibilities. They protested last week outside a meeting of the pensions’ trustees and at a Ford showroom in Dagenham.
They also held a 200-strong meeting in Enfield on Wednesday of last week.
Liz Boakye was a worker at the Ford-Visteon Enfield plant.
She said, “I have got osteoarthritis and I am not well enough to work. I was looking forward to getting my pension to live on but now I will have nothing.”
Dennis Varney told Socialist Worker, “Our ultimate aim is to get Ford to save the pension fund.
“I did 38 years with Ford-Visteon. Lots of people worked most of their life for Ford and then did a few years for Visteon and now their pension scheme has been closed.
Their anger increased last week with the news that Visteon Corp executives in the US want to give $80 million in bonuses mostly to top managers. The company has recently moved to cut off healthcare benefits for retired workers.
Paul Bailey said, “I worked for Ford for 32 years and at Visteon until December 2002. The company stressed that we had no option but to join and this scheme would be well supported.”
The successful fight over redundancies has given the workers confidence that they can also win this fight.