Report: Visteon Pensions Protest
1st March 2011Up to 200 Visteon pensioners demonstrated outside Parliament today 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 as Belfast, Basildon and Enfield plants closed. It was only because of a heroic campaign of occupations and pickets that a decent redundancy was won. This battle set the example for the pension campaign. The pensions of 3,000 pensioners at the 3 locations plus Swansea which was sold by Visteon in 2008 and closed last autumn by new owners Linamar have been reduced by between 14% - 50% as they head towards the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).
The pensioners believe that Ford are liable because the company gave guarantees when they convinced Visteon workers to transfer their pension from the Ford fund to the new Visteon one after Ford spun-off the four component plants to its new creation - Visteon in 2000. Ford made £billions 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 its Visteon who need 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 - how a company can go into administration while a subsidiary 'Visteon Engineering Services' continues to operate in Chelmsford with Visteon UK's management! However, as Rob Williams former Swansea Unite Convenor 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 $9billion - 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 campaign: Visteon Pension Action Group website
A Visteon Pensioner