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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 May 2009

Visteon: editorial comment

London Socialist Party meeting held in support of the Visteon workers (April 2009) with convenors from Visteon Basildon and Enfield, Rob Williams and Brian Denny, photo Paul Mattsson

London Socialist Party meeting held in support of the Visteon workers (April 2009) with convenors from Visteon Basildon and Enfield, Rob Williams and Brian Denny, photo Paul Mattsson

The hard-nosed Visteon bosses thought that they could just summarily close 'their' factories, throwing workers out on to the streets, with measly 'compensation'. But, as Frank Jepson's gripping and inspiring account shows, they have been prevented from doing this by the marvellous action of the Visteon workers, backed up by widespread solidarity from the rest of the working class.

There is no doubt that, compared to what was offered at the beginning, the settlement is a considerable achievement on the part of these workers. Mass pressure has compelled the bosses to offer more reasonable redundancy terms than they originally intended. Unfortunately the factories have not been saved. If the workers' suggestion that they be nationalised and kept open through alternative production had been adopted, they could have been.

Instead many of these workers will now add to the remorseless rise in unemployment in Britain, which could leapfrog to three million, or even to 3.6 million by the end of next year. It is against this background that the opposition to closure of the factories, felt by all Visteon workers, is particularly keenly felt in Belfast. Northern Ireland already has the outlines of a desperate rise in unemployment.

Some of those who were made redundant may get jobs later - although this is a remote prospect for many. It is also likely that these jobs will be much lower paid.

And there is the loss of skills, which will go with the redundancies. Following the collapse of MG Rover in 2005, the Work Foundation reported that two-thirds of those who found jobs suffered swingeing cuts in pay, with the average loss being 5,640. That was before the recession which will worsen the situation.

There is also the unresolved issue of the workers' pension rights. It is not ruled out that the bosses could try to renege on the pensions. This must be met with firm opposition from the trade unions.

But the lesson of this dispute is that the Visteon workers would have received next to nothing without determined class action, including occupations of their factories, for a time in the case of Enfield and Basildon, and throughout the dispute in the case of Belfast.

Benchmark for struggles

Moreover, as Frank Jepson indicates, the initiative to occupy did not come from the trade union officials, but from the workers themselves. These workers have now set a benchmark for all similar struggles in Britain. They have 'learned to speak French', adopting the militancy of the French workers. This lesson will not be lost on other workers who will face similar attacks in the next period.

This victory must be built on in the struggle against the mass redundancies that loom. The starting point must be opposition to all redundancies and defence of every job. A key part must be the building of the Youth Fight for Jobs campaign among the young people who will be among the first on the dole queues.

But fundamentally, the defensive, and offensive, struggles of the coming period must be linked to the fight for socialist change in society to replace the rule of the dictatorial bosses with a socialist planned economy.

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In The Socialist 5 May 2009:

Visteon workers show: Action gets results

Visteon UK struggle: the story of what happened

Visteon: Editorial comment


Defend victimised trade unionist

Rob Williams sacked by brutal bosses

Editorial: Decisive action needed against victimisations

Defend victimised trade unionist

Defending a shop steward, in spite of the anti-union laws

National Shop Stewards Network national conference


No 2 EU - Yes to Democracy

How can the BNP really be defeated?

Support for No2EU at Usdaw conference


Socialist Party news and analysis

Swine flu: The real issues behind the headlines


May Day

Workers look for alternative to bankrupt capitalism

Widespread protests in Pakistan

Thousands demonstrate in Hong Kong

Bigger May Day demos in Sweden this year

CWI Germany calls for a one-day strike


International socialist news and analysis

ANC returned to power in election landslide


Socialist Party campaigns

Save Lewisham Bridge Defend education

Youth fight for jobs: Launch conference

Youth fight for jobs website

Fight to save higher education

Save linguistics at Sussex!

Keep fighting for further education funding


 

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