Friday, 3 April 2009

Support the Visteon occupation - rally 11am, Saturday 4 April

OK, another time we can have a debate about property rights, but, for now, I would urge people to think about why they might support the Visteon car parts factory occupation currently going on in neighbouring Enfield.

The workers at Visteon UK, formerly a part of Ford, about 560 of them, were made redundant without notice. They had contracts mirroring those of Ford workers, but, with Visteon going into liquidation, will only receive minimal statutory redundancy terms. They are upset and angry, and have done the only thing they could that would get them a hearing: refused to leave their former workplace. Their demand: better redundancy terms (not much to ask for after years and in some cases decades of loyal service).

Yesterday evening a friend and I drove across Barnet to Morson Road, Enfield where the factory is, to visit the occupation. With the occupation, the workers have maintained and intensified the community spirit they will lose when the factory closes and the workforce is broken up. Family members and sacked workers who were not in on the start of the occupation are creating a holiday atmosphere around the plant. But an eviction notice has been served, and it is only a matter of time before the workers have to leave. Most of them will have to be carried out.

In the meantime, there is much work to be done. The case needs to be made that workers can resist job cuts, or fight for better redundancy terms if they are to lose their jobs. There are arguments to be had about converting factories to produce goods that are still wanted, even in a recession, when car parts are not wanted. There is a big debate about whether the economic system we have now is the best humans can manage - personally, I don't think it is. But even those who extoll the virtues of this system have a duty, I believe, to go and test their views against those of the the people who are currently on the sharp end of the recession.

Tomorrow, Saturday 4 April, a rally for supporters from across London has been called beside the factory from 11am. If you are free, please go along. It will be a great event!

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