Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/7133
Enfield Visteon - Diary of an occupier
Workers occupy at Visteon Enfield, photo Paul Mattsson
There is an eerie silence in the Visteon Enfield plant with all the machinery idle. There is also anger and sadness that this silence was caused by a deliberate act of sabotage by the Visteon management. Through administrators KPMG, they callously announced, with no notice, the closure of the Enfield plant along with Belfast and Basildon. In Enfield over two hundred workers were thrown on to the scrap heap without redundancy payments. This is what provoked the workers to occupy the plant on 1 April.
Mick Cotter, chair London Craft branch (Unite)
I spent Thursday afternoon and night inside the plant with around eighty workers. I was inspired by how quickly those occupying had organised - banner waving protest rotas on the roof, food collections, television etc etc. There was a real camaraderie amongst everyone there and genuine hospitality towards those of us that were there in solidarity.
In the early stages they were relying on their national union officials (Unite) to sort out the mess. They were limited to demanding fair treatment and for Ford who 'have a moral obligation' towards a workforce who were once employed by Ford to step in and offer proper redundancy payments or alternative jobs.
However quite rapidly, as a result of the occupation, (there is not a lot to do but talk) many were coming to far more radical conclusions about things like the economy, the decimation of British manufacturing, the lack of proper job opportunities for young people and other workers currently on the dole.
Overwhelmingly almost everyone I spoke to hated New Labour. Most were former voters and most were saying there is no voice for ordinary workers in politics today with a very sympathetic ear to the Campaign for a New Workers' Party.
Eventually some of us tried to bed down on cardboard. Some lucky ones had blow-up beds and some just chose to stay up all night chatting. I can't say it was comfortable but it was satisfying.
When I woke in the morning a worker who had bedded down nearby, on seeing my union bag and copy of The Socialist, asked where I was from. His next sentence was how much they were inspired and appreciated the fact that others were prepared to come along and support them and how we were keeping them going.
It's difficult to reply to a comment like that. It seems inappropriate to say: "We're just doing our job". So I just said: "It's OK mate we'll be with you to the end".
It wasn't a nice feeling leaving the following day but solidarity is needed outside too. I was taught to always carry a copy of the paper wherever you go, I could add to that now 'always carry a toothbrush' you never know!