The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 73/No. 18      May 11, 2009

 
Workers in N. Ireland
continue auto sit-in
(front page)
 
BY PAUL DAVIES
BELFAST, Northern Ireland—Workers at three Visteon auto parts supply plants in Ireland and England are reaching out for support from other workers in their fight against job losses. They have been occupying the plant here since March 31.

Visteon UK was established in 2000 from existing Ford car parts plants. The company manufactured fuel rails, injection moldings, and other parts used in Ford’s operations.

Intending to avoid making redundancy (layoff) payments, Visteon declared bankruptcy and closed the plants. The government will administer the company's pension scheme. There is no guarantee what workers will receive.

The Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance union recently donated 5000 (1=$US1.47) to aid the workers in their fight against Visteon. Delegations from the Fire Brigades Union and the University of Ulster have visited the workers. At the Enfield and Basildon plants near London, workers have organized 24-hour pickets outside the factories.

Workers at the Belfast plant joined a rally in the city center organized by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions April 17 to protest rising joblessness. Delegations from the Enfield and Basildon plants were present as well as Belfast bus workers. All Citybus services were stopped for an hour during the rally, according to the Belfast Telegraph. Union representatives from Bombardier and Nortel, where job cuts have been announced, spoke at the rally.

“We don’t want their money—we want our jobs,” said John Maguire, the union convener at the Belfast plant in response to a payment that Visteon Corporation, the U.S. owners, made last week. Union representatives rejected the offer, which is equivalent to 16 weeks' pay.

“This would give me a maximum of 11,000, but under the terms agreed to before the plant closure I would get between 30,000 to 40,000,” explained Chris Jones on the picket line at Basildon.

“The offer is not even available to me,” said Joe Murphy, who worked at the Belfast plant for four years. Murphy explained he was one of 22 workers hired under the company’s "cost competitive rate," who don’t qualify for the payment.

“We had a nine-week strike over pay and conditions in 1978,” said Charlie Johnson, who worked at the Belfast plant for 31 years. “We fought for the things Visteon has taken away.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” said Sean McCaffrey an electrician at the plant for 31 years. McCaffrey and his wife Moya help provide three hot meals a day for workers occupying the plant. “We’ve got a Xmas tree ready—if it takes that long,” he added.

“I’m a changed man since the occupation started. I use to live in a cocoon and just got on with things.”

Messages of support for the Visteon workers can be emailed to steve.hart@unitetheunion.com

Björn Tirsen contributed to this article.
 
 
Related articles:
Vancouver hospital workers march, demand higher pay
Chrysler, GM bosses, gov’t demand new union givebacks  
 
 
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