Visteon workers have won a major victory against one of the biggest and most powerful multinational companies in the world – Ford.
The workers used to be employed by Ford until 2000 and were sacked at the end of last month. Ford tried to avoid its responsibilities, claiming that it owed the workers nothing.
But workers’ action has forced Ford to offer hundreds of thousands of pounds in redundancy packages. Many workers will get £40,000 or more. It is one of the biggest payouts that Ford has ever offered.
Unite union reps are recommending that workers accept the offer. They are due to vote on it later today.
Levent Adnan worked at the Enfield site for over 17 years. “This is a massive result for us,” he told Socialist Worker. “We’ve managed to beat a massive corporation. Ford and Visteon have had their fingers burnt.
“The threat of taking action to Ford was the turning point. This offer sets a new benchmark too – if Ford try to sack workers elsewhere they won’t be able to just do it and give people nothing.
“People can see now that if you put up a strong enough fight you can win. This is a victory for workers and it’s about time we won something.”
Around 600 workers across plants in Enfield, north London, Basildon in Essex and Belfast have been fighting back since the end of March, when they were sacked with no notice, no redundancy pay or pensions.
Workers occupied their plants in protest and held 24-hour pickets outside to stop Visteon or its administrator, KPMG, from removing any equipment. They refused to give in until they got justice – and they have shown that militant action is the best way to get it.
Ford employed the workers until 2000 and many were still on Ford contracts.
When the dispute began, Ford claimed it had no responsibility for the workers.
But the determination of the workers – combined with threats to spread action across Ford that could have cost the company millions – meant that it couldn’t continue with this lie.
Ford was on the defensive and more could have been won. If the national leadership of Unite had mobilised the whole union behind the occupations, it could have got Visteon workers their jobs back.
But the fact that it has been forced to pay up is a fantastic victory that shows the power that workers have when they fight.
Many workers are ecstatic that they have forced Ford to pay up. But they are not complacent.
“I’m not moving from here until we’ve got the money,” said Marcia, on the picket line in Enfield today. “They can’t be trusted. We’ve embarrassed Ford and that’s why they had to come back to the table.”
The struggle has had a lasting impact on the workers.
“The offer has lifted us all,” said Wez Ullah, a Ford worker of 14 years. “We know now that we can fight and win, and we’ll have a more positive attitude in the future.
“The thing that made the difference is threatening to pull out other Ford workers – the only thing companies care about is their profits. I hope this will have an impact on other workers. So many people are going to the wall and it was the norm for them to just accept it.
“But this has opened people’s eyes and shown that you don’t have to accept it.'
“We have realised our power now,” added Marcia. “At first when we were sacked, we just went home as we thought we couldn’t do anything. But then you get home and look at your kids and think, how am I going to feed them?
“You realise you have to fight. When we’re in a group we can move mountains.”