VFS strike - photo Nick Chaffey
VFS strike - photo Nick Chaffey

Nick Chaffey, Southampton Socialist Party

Unite members at VFS auto-builders in Eastleigh, Hampshire, have completed their seventh day of strike action, after rejecting a miserly 1.5% improved pay offer from management. The strike has been solidly supported, with solidarity from other workers, ensuring nothing enters or leaves the factory on strike days.

Confidence has grown through the strike, as workers have had to respond to management tactics of divide and rule, trying to set other workers against the strikers. Attempts to keep production going with office staff and inexperienced agency workers have not gone well.

These workers have clearly had enough. VFS is part of the Ford chain, producing tipper-trucks and other versions of the Ford Transit chassis. This is a highly profitable market and workers, many who have worked here for over twenty years, are expecting a fair share of the profits.

But the message from management is anything but clear. A new offer was made last week, but as one striker said: “It’s all smoke and mirrors, and the figure in the bottom right-hand corner hasn’t changed.” Management have said the strike is risking the future of the plant, but are also saying order books are full and that everyone will share in the benefits.

The problem is this promise has become a worn-out record, repeated every quarter in recent times, but failing to make a difference in pay. In a sign that management are not happy with the impact of the strike, free tea, coffee and biscuits have been withdrawn!

Unite members are now preparing for further strike action if a significantly improved offer is not made.