Page last updated at 10:11 GMT, Monday, 4 May 2009 11:11 UK

Visteon workers vote to back deal

Union official Brian Burns talks to Mark Simpson

Visteon workers in west Belfast have voted to accept a deal to end a dispute over the closure of the factory.

Workers backed the deal on Sunday by 147 to 34 votes.

It includes enhanced redundancy payments, as well as compensation in lieu of notice and holiday pay.

But those who were employed after Visteon took over the plant nine years ago say their pay-off is not fair compared to those who started working under original owners Ford.

One man, called Fra, said "this deal utterly stinks".

The deal means some workers will get six months pay, while the majority will get 12 months pay.

"It seems to me Visteon feel that I am half the man as the guy who was standing working beside me this last number of years.

"To me it is totally and utterly unjust and wrong. I feel betrayed by my national union officials - these are the guys that done this, I hope they can sleep in their bed."

Tony Woodley, the general secretary of trade union Unite, said the criticisms were "understandable but not realistic".

"The factory went into administration with five minutes notice, the administrators were going to give our people statutory redundancy pay," he said.

"We worked our socks off, without all of this efforts we wouldn't be having 23 people disappointed, we be having 610 people disappointed.

"Twenty-three people would have had two weeks pay, now its at least six months pay."

Meanwhile, the rest of the workforce which has occupied the plant since the dispute began more than four weeks ago, say they will wait until the agreement is ratified at national level and redundancy payments begin before they leave the site.

Unfortunately we weren't able to keep these people in their jobs, but in terms of a financial package, we think we've done the best we possibly can
Roger Madison

About 200 former employees in Belfast have been occupying the site.

Almost 600 jobs were lost at Visteon's three plants in Belfast, Basildon and Enfield, with staff being given less than an hour's notice.

The Unite union had already said it had agreed improved redundancy terms with the company.

Unite spokesman Roger Madison said the deal was "10 times what people were being offered originally".

"They've only been offered this because of the actions taken, especially by the people in west Belfast - to lock themselves in a plant for nearly a month is refreshing - it's old-fashioned trade unionism."

The company was formerly owned by Ford, and Mr Madison said it was "the sort of closure package we would see if a Ford plant was closing".

"Unfortunately we weren't able to keep these people in their jobs, but in terms of a financial package, we think we've done the best we possibly can," he said.

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