Page last updated at 06:12 GMT, Thursday, 2 April 2009 07:12 UK

Factory workers continue protest

Sacked workers from the car components firm Visteon are continuing to occupy a factory in Belfast.
Sacked workers from the car components firm Visteon are continuing to occupy a factory in Belfast.

Sacked workers from the car components firm Visteon are continuing to occupy a factory in Belfast.

Protesting staff at the firm also staged a rooftop protest at a plant in Enfield, London while others held a sit-in in Basildon in Essex.

They claim the company's former owner, Ford, had promised redundancy contracts which they now want to see honoured.

However a Ford spokesman has ruled out the possibility of a better deal for the sacked workers.

The Visteon workers say they had guarantees on pay and conditions when the company was established out of Ford nine years ago.

Visteon protesters stage a sit-in

The Unite union is planning to meet John Fleming, the chief executive of Ford Europe tomorrow, but the Ford spokesman warned that the Visteon workers were no longer the responsibility of the company.

"These employees were transferred to Visteon in 2000," he said.

"The door was open for interested employees to come back and over 550 returned to Ford in the nine years that have passed but today's battle is one between them and their employer, not the previous employer."

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said he had already lobbied Mr Fleming on the workers behalf

"I had a lengthy and very frank conversation," said Mr Adams.

"I put it to him that Ford had, in my view, a contractual, as well as moral and ethical, responsibility for what happened to the workforce at Visteon."

Visteon had a total workforce of 610 in the United Kingdom. Five hundred and sixty five of them were sacked on Tuesday.

The administrators, KPMG, said it had no alternative but to close the factories.

The company said remaining employees would assist the administrators in "the orderly wind down of the business".

It added that the UK business had not been profitable "since its incorporation in 2000" and Visteon UK's reported losses totalled £669m.

Robert Fitch, the shop steward for Unite at the Basildon plant, said staff were facing financial hardship.

"They've basically said the business is no longer here, you're not getting anything.

"You have to write to the government and the administrators to try and get some help, but next week I won't be getting a pay packet and I've got all my bills to pay."

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