Page last updated at 21:51 GMT, Tuesday, 31 March 2009 22:51 UK

Sacked workers occupy car factory

Visteon protest
Visteon employs 600 people across three plants in the United Kingdom

Employees are continuing their protest at a factory in west Belfast. More than 100 workers have staged a sit-in, the Unite trade union has said.

Earlier, it was announced that 565 staff would go at Visteon car components plants across the UK.

Most of the jobs have been lost with immediate effect. Two hundred jobs will go at the Belfast factory.

KPMG said it had no alternative but to close the factory and two others in Basildon and Enfield in England.

Administrators have been called in to the factory which is the former Ford plant.

Visteon has a total workforce of 600 in the United Kingdom.

Unite convenor John Maguire said the workers at the plant had "been treated disgracefully".

"We have been left with no choice but to occupy the factory to save our jobs and to defend jobs for the people of Belfast," he said.

Ford have a moral responsibility to these people and they are avoiding any responsibility
Davy McMurray
Unite trade union

The company in the UK had been waiting to hear if Visteon in America would continue to prop up its three plants.

West Belfast MP Gerry Adams expressed his "deep disappointment".

"Sinn Féin has been liaising closely with the management of Visteon and with the local workforce.

"Ford are directly implicated in the future of the Belfast plant, as its sole customer and former owner. If the local workforce is to be told that the plant no longer has a future, Sinn Féin will insist that the management of Ford explain this fate," he said.

Visteon workers

Workers at the Visteon plant in west Belfast describe how they were told of the news.

Davy McMurray, regional organiser for Unite, said he understood that a handful of workers would be kept on to run the plant down before they too lose their jobs.

Mr McMurray said the way the job cuts were announced was "brutal."

"The administrators just came in, told them they were in administration and their employment was terminated. These people are going to be put out on the street tonight."

He called on Ford, as the "sole recipient" of Visteon parts, to show generosity.

'Body blow'

"Ford have a moral responsibility to these people and they are avoiding any responsibility," he said.

He added that they should receive Ford redundancy packages."

Visteon plant in Belfast
Ford is the sole customer and former owner of the Visteon plant

SDLP MLA for west Belfast Alex Attwood said it is a "body blow to the area".

"The loss of 210 jobs, part of our much needed manufacturing base, is not the news we want to hear," he said.

Visteon took over the Ford plant in west Belfast in 2000.

It said the 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.

John Hansen, joint administrator, said: "The entire automotive supply chain has been under pressure for a number of years."



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