Page last updated at 12:27 GMT, Wednesday, 1 April 2009 13:27 UK

Car plant workers occupy factory

Protesters at the Visteon car parts factory in west Belfast
Former workers spent the night at the Belfast factory

Former workers at the UK arm of US car parts firm Visteon have occupied a factory in Enfield, north London, the Unite union says.

They are also protesting at a plant in Essex, while 80 workers are still taking part in a sit-in at a factory in Belfast which began on Tuesday.

The workers are angry about more than 500 job losses and what they see as derisory redundancy packages.

The company was placed into administration on Tuesday.

Visteon, the US-based firm which was spun-off from Ford, has had a presence in the UK since 2000 through Visteon UK Ltd.

The subsidiary has racked up losses of £669m since then.

As a result, Visteon stopped funding the operation and appointed KPMG as administrators, who immediately shut down production at the three factories and announced 565 redundancies.

According to KPMG, production has been diverted to other Visteon factories outside the UK.

'Fair deal'

The workers are protesting at what they see as rough treatment.

"They are just looking for a fair deal," said Pauline Doyle at Unite.

Depending on length of service, they are only entitled to statutory redundancy. This is capped at £350 a week, and runs for a maximum of 30 weeks, said KPMG.

But only workers who have been employed by Visteon for two years or more will qualify for redundancy.

The protestors claim the company's former owner and main customer, Ford, had promised much more generous redundancy contracts which they now want to see honoured.

There are also question marks over the workers' pensions.

They might eventually be placed into the government's Pension Protection Fund. However, as yet the fund has "not even been informed officially of any insolvency", a PPF spokesman said. "We're not involved at all at the moment," he said.

Visteon also owns another subsidiary - Visteon Engineering Services (VES) - in the UK. A spokesperson for Visteon said VES and its 400 employees were completely unaffected by the closure of the three factories.

Visteon in the US is itself struggling to survive.

It has been hit hard by a drop in orders as carmakers cut back production during the economic downturn.



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