Lowry offers support to Visteon workers

Workers' Party General Secretary condemns treatment of workers who were given six minutes notice of redundancy

The Worker’s  Party has expressed support for the dozens of workers at the Visteon auto-parts plant in west Belfast who are refusing to leave the car park after bosses said more than 200 jobs were being axed in Northern Ireland. The job cuts were announced after the main UK arm of the car parts maker went into administration, with the loss of nearly 600 jobs in total.
Commenting on the sit-in, Workers’ Party General Secretary, John Lowry, has joined with angry workers in calling on Ford, Visteon’s main customer and former owner, to honour previous commitments to no compulsory layoffs.

“It is absolutely outrageous that staff members at the plant were given just six minutes notice before they found out they were being made redundant”, said Mr Lowry, “And on top of this, workers may not receive the Ford redundancy package, which under previous commitments by management they should be getting.

“As recently as December 2007 Visteon sold three plots of land and buildings on its 22-acre site to a local developer, presumably for a healthy profit. But now the downturn in the global auto industry has come to Northern Ireland and hit local workers.

“The broader issue is skills loss. According to some commentators it will take decades to recreate these skills in whatever post-recession new industries remain. The lesson that politicians need to learn is that the market alone cannot provide the kind of job stability that workers need and deserve.”

In related news, the UK's biggest union, Unite, is planning a massive march for jobs through the UK's manufacturing heartland in an effort to draw attention to employment and more importantly the skills being lost in the car industry.

The march will go through central Birmingham on May 16th. As Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of Unite put it: "If the state's help is good enough for the banks, then it is surely good enough for the UK's workers”.

Issued 31st March 2009

Peace, Work, Democracy & Class Politics