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From The Socialist newspaper, 2 July 2008

Visteon workers win 5%

Workers in Visteon have accepted a 5% pay rise, after balloting for strike action. Rob Williams, the Unite convenor at Visteon Swansea, spoke to The Socialist in a personal capacity.

"This deal applies to workers who were employed immediately after Visteon was spun off from Ford. The trade union believes this is a significant victory for those workers in view of the pay restraint that's out there now.

The company were aware that over the last three years our members have been prepared to take action to defend their jobs, terms and conditions and their pensions. Confidence has been built up and the company know we don't make idle threats.

When the shop stewards committee changed three years ago, we inherited three different contracts. This was a setback for the union but we have shown it wasn't a permanent setback. Workers on the lowest-paid contract have just got a 4.95% pay rise.

Three years ago, Swansea was seen in Visteon as the plant which had made most concessions. But that got us to the stage where our basic terms and conditions were under threat. So we weren't prepared to accept a pay deal which would cut our living standards.

And if inflation goes higher then there will have to be further battles. This is a one-year deal and the next rise is due in March.

Visteon have made no secret of the fact that they want to sell the Swansea plant and our position has been that if that happens, we won't accept any changes to our terms and conditions.

Any takeover will be on the basis of our members keeping all their terms and conditions and their final salary pension. And all those workers who have contracts from before Visteon was spun off from Ford will retain the link with Ford.

The important point to make is that none of that was guaranteed. But we were always confident that we could retain our terms and conditions. But I don't know whether that has been shared by the full-time officers. The shop floor strength has been what has kept our contracts.

Visteon is a company in crisis. They are shutting down in higher-paid countries and they want to go to low-cost countries. Hopefully we have sent a message that if anyone wants to close Swansea there will be an almighty fight. We have shown that if workers engage in struggle there's not a huge amount to lose but a lot to gain."

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Related links:

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