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Ford challenged in legal bid: Pay the Visteon pensioners now!
On the very day that Ford Motor Company announced huge profits of $6.6 billion after tax, Unite has launched legal action against the car giant in a bid to win back lost pensions for over 3,000 pensioners.
Rob Williams, Former Unite convenor at Swansea Visteon/Linamar Plant
In 2000 Ford set up or 'spun-off' a separate and so-called independent company called Visteon which mainly comprised its component manufacturing plants - in Britain the plants at Basildon, Belfast, Enfield and Swansea.
These workers were promised that their jobs would now be safe and their terms and conditions and pensions would be 'mirrored' to that of workers still working at Ford for the rest of their working lives and retirement. Further, they were encouraged to transfer their pensions from the more stable Ford fund to a new Visteon one with the promise that even if Visteon got into economic difficulties, the pensions would be guaranteed.
These promises proved worthless when Visteon UK went into administration on 31 March 2009 - leaving 600 workers sacked and 3,000 pensioners facing the Pension Protection Fund, with cuts to pensions and concerns about the long-term if the PPF runs out of money. Many workers have lost over £200 a month with others losing up to £600.
These pensioners were inspired into action by the heroic struggle of the Visteon workers who occupied and picketed their plants and won enhanced redundancy. Since then pensioners from all the areas affected have become organised. They have lobbied and protested continuously over the last 18 months or so, from Ford plants and dealerships to Parliament just before Christmas.
Finally, Unite has agreed to launch the legal action. Visteon pensioners are adamant; Ford should come up with the money to fill the black hole in the pension fund to ensure that these workers, many of whom gave 30 years or more unstinting service, get their full pensions.
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