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30 March 2011
Visteon pensioners demand the pensions they have earned
Up to 200 Visteon pensioners demonstrated outside parliament on Tuesday 29 March as Ford executives met MPs. It was apt that the meeting took place almost two years to the day since Visteon UK went into administration - resulting in 600 workers being immediately sacked when Belfast, Basildon and Enfield plants closed.
A Visteon pensioner
It was only because of a heroic campaign of occupations and pickets that decent redundancy payments were won. That battle set the example for the pensions campaign.
The pensions of 3,000 pensioners at the three locations plus Swansea which was sold by Visteon in 2008 and closed last autumn by new owners Linamar are being reduced by between 14% and 50% as they head towards the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).
The pensioners believe that Ford is liable because the company gave guarantees when it convinced Visteon workers to transfer their pensions from the Ford fund to the new Visteon one.
This was after Ford had spun off the four component plants to its new creation - Visteon - in 2000. Ford made billions of pounds in profits from these workers by using their so-called 'independence' to force down prices.
Unsurprisingly, Visteon UK never made a profit! It was always in crisis and because the pension fund was in deficit at the time of insolvency, the PPF and its cuts in pension benefits looms.
Unite has started legal action to get Ford to accept its responsibilities and finally pay up to ensure that these pensioners escape a retirement of poverty.
In the meeting, Ford tried to argue yet again that it is Visteon that needs to be questioned - continuing the myth that we are dealing with two unconnected companies.
The pensioners have no problem with Visteon being summoned to meet MPs - preferably in a select committee jointly with Ford.
The bankruptcy of Visteon UK deserves a full investigation - for example on how the company can go into administration while a subsidiary called 'Visteon Engineering Services' continues to operate in Chelmsford with Visteon UK's management!
However, as former Swansea Unite convenor Rob Williams explained to the protest: "MPs shouldn't be fooled by this red herring. Ford was Visteon and Visteon was Ford".
Ford has just announced profits of over $9 billion - enough to pay two of its executives nearly $100 million between them! They don't fear their retirement but Visteon pensioners will continue fighting for the pensions they were promised and earned.
For more info about the campaign see http://www.visteonpensionactiongroup.co.uk/
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