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Visteon workers angry and determined
Workers picket Visteon at Basildon, photo Greg Maughan
THE STRUGGLE of workers at Visteon plants has inspired many other workers whose jobs are threatened. The occupations and mass pickets at the Belfast, Basildon and Enfield plants have forced the management into talks, the results of which are due soon after The Socialist goes to press. Below we carry reports from Basildon and Enfield.
TWO HUNDRED Visteon workers, family members, and trade unionists bringing solidarity from other workplaces marched through the streets of Basildon on 11 April. Angry chants of "Steve Gawne hear us say, Visteon workers here to stay" and "Sack the bosses, not the workers" rang through the shopping centre. Local people applauded and joined the march.
The Basildon Visteon workers were particularly pleased to have the presence of Rob Williams and others from the ex-Visteon (now Linamar) plant in Swansea.
Steve Gawne is managing director of Visteon UK. He appears to have set up a new company in preparation for Visteon's closure, so he can keep trading and making profits while he casts out the workforce without a penny.
The Basildon workers visited his luxury house, with pool and orchard, on 13 April, taking a letter demanding the redundancy and pensions they are owed. Several commented: "That's my pension in that house." The bosses like the money they make out of them but don't like facing the workers themselves. Gawne made his exit before the workers arrived, so we confronted a representative of the administrators.
Struggle and solidarity
Two weeks of round-the-clock pickets have made the workers even more determined to fight on. Nearly every day over the last week they have been out with leaflets and buckets at the railway station, the shopping centre and supermarkets.
Socialist Party members have helped with all this activity. Visteon workers went with Socialist Party members early one morning to leaflet Fords Dagenham too, calling for solidarity. On Easter Monday, Visteon workers and supporters picketed Ford showrooms in Dagenham, Romford, Billericay, Grays and Basildon.
Saturday's march ended at the Visteon Customer and Technology Centre (VTC), a symbol of how the bosses shift profits around to make it look like Visteon UK has made a loss. The VTC still operates as an allegedly independent company, on money made out of Visteon workers.
Many of these workers had what they thought of as secure, reasonably well-paid jobs for years. Now their lives have been turned upside down and their experience of struggle and solidarity over the last two weeks has transformed the way many of them think.
"I used to drive past picket lines and protests and think it had nothing to do with me. But I'll never do that again" is a comment repeated again and again.
Many have also changed their mind about the Labour Party and are interested in the RMT's euro-elections initiative. Discussion on the pickets into the night includes discussing the different organisations that support them, and discussing the nature of capitalism and questions about socialism.
ON 9 April Visteon workers marched out of their occupation of the Enfield plant. Since then they have had 24-hour pickets on each gate of the factory to prevent any machinery, tools or car parts leaving the plant.
The occupation ended as High Court action threatened imprisonment of the factory's Unite convenor and deputy-convenor.
Socialist Party members and trade unionists have visited regularly in support of the pickets. There are also rumours that management want to reopen the plant with a new workforce.
In The Socialist 15 April 2009:
Stop the slaughter of Tamils
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party workplace news
Youth fight for jobs
Marxist analysis: history
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party campaigns
International socialist news and analysis