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20 May 2009

Visteon workers' victory march

On 18 May at lunchtime, sacked Visteon workers turned up at their factories in big numbers to mark the end of occupations and pickets. In the next few days big financial payments will go into their bank accounts, won by weeks of militant mass action.

Paula Mitchell

In a coordinated action, to march off the sites together, heads held high, all three sites held rallies at the same time.

At Basildon and Enfield, Socialist Party speakers joined with speakers from the workers and other supporters. From the Basildon plant we marched to the Visteon Corporation's Customer and Technology centre, still open and trading despite the fact that Visteon UK went into administration over a month ago. A chillingly silent protest took place outside this building, and then the workers laid their banners and flags in the doorway.

We all then headed to the pub for champagne and flowers, to be followed with a big party next week.

The Visteon workers and their partners, many of whom stood by the workers on the pickets for weeks, were in celebratory mood because of their tremendous achievement.

But the end of this battle is tinged with sadness as well. Many of these men and women have worked for Ford and then Visteon for 20 or 30 years. They now face a time of hardship and uncertainty, and will miss the collective organisation and camaraderie of the workplace.

The last few weeks have been life-changing. People have taken action they never thought they would take. The real brutal nature of this capitalist system has been laid bare.

They have discussed the need to fight to transform the trade unions, and many of them intend to stay in Unite and get involved in the new United Left. They have talked about how the Labour Party has changed, and now many of them believe the union should stop funding it.

Many will be supporting No2EU - Yes to Democracy in the euro-elections. Several of them are also discussing socialist ideas.

The lessons of the Visteon struggle are discussed in more detail in the forthcoming issue of Socialism Today.

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