Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 16 July 2008

Visteon takeover: Workers' determination defends conditions

The sale of the Visteon car components plant in Swansea to Canadian company Linamar on 8 July marks the end of a chapter of heroic struggle by the workforce in defence of their jobs, terms and conditions and pensions.

Alec Thraves, Swansea

In 2000, Ford spun off the majority of its component manufacturing globally, thereby inventing Visteon (in the same way as General Motors produced Delphi).

This was part of their strategy to reduce costs, enabling them to employ workers on different 'tiers' - terms and conditions. Also, they were able to 'trade' with their former selves on advantageous terms. For example, in Swansea brake drums were bought from Ford's Leamington Foundry at a more expensive price than the finished product!

In reality, for Ford it was a win-win situation. They avoided a generalised struggle against the closure of four plants in the UK and boosted their profits by screwing Visteon for price reductions. It was also part of Ford's moves out of the UK. In 2000, there were at least 14 trade union convenors represented on the national negotiating committee, now there are only seven.

The past eight years has been a period of constant pressure from Visteon, both in Swansea and nationally to reduce costs at the expense of the workforce. Alongside brutal efficiency savings on things like the outsourcing of indirect jobs to contractors, the new second-tier Visteon New Hire (VNH) contracts, introduced in 2001, were designed to save money and fatally divide the union.

In 2005, this philosophy was extended. The union unfortunately allowed in the third-tier Cost Competitive Rate (CCR) contracts. The union officers argued to the shop stewards at the time that it was impossible to retain work without these changes.

Former Ford workers on Ford-mirrored terms (FMT) were 'persuaded' to support it on the basis that 'you won't be affected'. However, this only made management confident to attack everyone's contracts. As a reaction to this, in July 2005, a more combative shop stewards' committee was elected.

From September 2005 to December 2006, Swansea helped to inspire the rest of the Visteon UK plants to defy the company's attacks. Unfortunately, much of the time, they were confronted by the conservatism of their own officers.

Time after time, Visteon workers showed that they were prepared to take action to defend what they had. This bound together the different tiers, resulting in all contracts receiving the Ford pay rise in December 2006. For the first time in six years, Visteon UK management had been defeated.

Proposals rejected

From that moment, Visteon made it clear that Swansea was for sale. However, all three potential owners, including Linamar, made it clear that the terms and conditions, particularly of the FMT workers were unaffordable.

Linamar's first proposal would have meant wage and pension cuts for all contracts. But when this was modified to a final offer where only the FMT contracts would be affected, they must have felt that it would be agreed.

However, incredible solidarity was shown when workers on all contracts rejected the proposal, staring at the threat of possible closure if the sale failed. Therefore, the sale to Linamar is on the basis that all contracts, including pensions, are unaffected and the FMT workers retain their link with future Ford pay deals.

Rob Williams, Unite convenor, told The Socialist: "This is an incredible victory but has only proved possible through the struggles of the last three years. As with the contracts fight, it has been sometimes successful and sometimes unsuccessful - like the battle to save the brake discs in 2007.

"But by being prepared to fight, every step back has been on the basis of winning some concessions. Also, while the existence of the three tiers of contracts has been an historic setback, Swansea workers have shown that, providing that workers are prepared to fight, there are no final defeats.

"But reducing the gaps between the tiers and eventually eliminating them and on the best level has to be a constant aim of the union.

"Linamar have promised to invest in the plant. Swansea workers will be encouraged by this but will be wary of broken promises. When one chapter closes, another opens!"

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 16 July 2008:

Global finance crisis deepens

Feature: Price inflation - the sickness of capitalism

Global Warming

Change the system! not the climate

International socialist news and analysis

Sri Lanka general strike

Military threat to Iran stepped up

Socialist Party NHS campaign

NHS - birthday greetings and warnings

Ambulances - calls doubled, no extra staff

Polyclinic courts Branson

Ex-Foley-ated! Union bashing NHS boss resigns as staff defeat pay cuts

Socialist Party campaigns

Glasgow East by-election Socialist change needed

Durham Miners' Gala rejects New Labour

One Wales rule for the rich...

Post Office Leeds: Haranguing in the rain

Greenwich: Employers' hypocrisy

Bangor: Bus protest

Workplace news and analysis

Visteon takeover: Workers' determination defends conditions

Shop stewards conference: Workers and war

Workplace news: In brief


Notts campaign against the racist BNP grows

Anti-racism stall in Wrexham

No to the BNP's attempt to divide Stoke's communities!

'Dear Boris' - we will NOT be silenced!

The Socialist Comment

Government attacks single parents

Socialist Party review

Live Working or Die Fighting: How the working class went global


Home   |   The Socialist 16 July 2008   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleFord workers vote for action

trianglePotential new steel bosses refuse to take on pensions

triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleFinal meeting of Swansea Visteon pensioners

triangleWorkplace news in brief


trianglePowerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

triangleSocialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

triangleSwansea Socialist Party: Art and Revolution

triangleSwansea Socialist Party: Mother Jones - A US labour pioneer


triangleVote for action to save Ford plant

triangleBridgend Ford overtime stoppage in sourcing dispute

trianglePrecise, visceral account of working class heroism

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Anti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee



Unite protest against blacklisting


Donald Trump

Mobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain



Arriva bus strikers stand firm



BT pensions review - oppose the attacks on the pension schemes



Driving examiners walkout hits first day of new test



School staff strike against privatisation



Brutal rail privateer Abellio takes over Midlands rail services



PCS Left Unity celebrates 40th anniversary at annual conference


North Yorkshire

Court maintains injunction against fracking protesters


Waltham Forest

Waltham Forest Universal Credit protest



Coventry Socialist sales hit 1,000



TUSC conference to debate 2018 elections



Liverpool John Moores Uni landslide for Socialist Students



Plans to launch no-cuts campaign at Kirklees College

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle8 Dec Local government pay: fight for the full 5% claim

triangle6 Dec Strikers rally in Liverpool

triangle6 Dec Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

triangle5 Dec Victory at Glenfield shows people power can save our NHS

triangle5 Dec Labour council Blairites deselected

triangle30 Nov Victory: Glenfield Children's Heart Centre saved!

triangle30 Nov Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike

More ...

triangle11 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Campaigning workshop

triangle11 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas Quiz

triangle12 Dec Birmingham South East Socialist Party: Can the Labour Party be changed?

triangle12 Dec Liverpool Socialist Party: Fighting council cuts

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice