Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/435/5145
Organise to defend jobs at Visteon
LAST SEPTEMBER, the bosses of Visteon UK (Ford's components business) informed the trade unions that the global corporation had 'dealt' with the biggest loss-maker, the USA, with the transfer of some 23 plants back under the control of Ford.
Visteon was 'spun-off' of from Ford in 2000. They said they were turning their attention on the next biggest loss-maker, the UK.
A series of negotiations followed but were adjourned when the union side insisted that the company guarantee the final salary pension fund, along with the Ford 'mirrored' and Visteon contract pay and conditions.
This adjournment has lasted since the end of October. However, on 25 March the company informed the unions that they were giving notice that talks would resume in five weeks. But the basis for them would be that in order to 'convince' the US parent company not to put Visteon UK into administration, pensions and pay and conditions would have to be renegotiated.
The unions re-stated that these, along with any attempt to close one of the four UK plants, would result in a ballot for industrial action.
Much of the shopfloor are beginning to fear that the adjournment has turned into an opportunity for the company to run down the UK operations. The most obvious example of this is the secret outsourcing of brake disc and drum volume from Swansea Plant at the same time as over 300 workers are offered transfers to the Ford engine plant in Bridgend.
However, Belfast has seen a pump product line desourced from the plant, while in Enfield, Toyota work has been threatened. Stewards are beginning to demand that preparations are put in place for industrial action by the time of the next meeting with the company at the end of April.
Workers have recently shown both Ford and Visteon that they are prepared to take action to defend their contracts and their jobs. This needs to be built on by a genuine campaign to promote a successful vote in a ballot.
As with General Motors and Delphi in the US, Ford has a key role to play in resolving the Visteon 'problem'. In fact, the Visteon 'project' is beginning to look like an ingenious strategy by Ford to get rid of unprofitable plants by setting up a so-called independent company, ruthlessly driving down costs and then putting it into administration with minimum liabilities and fuss.
Visteon workers can't afford for this to come true. Ford convenors have pledged to support a fightback in Visteon. They realise that this could be a blueprint for a future assault on them.
A serious campaign must now start in the Visteon plants.
In The Socialist 13 April 2006:
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