Visteon protesters struck a blow for all
I wish to applaud the courage and resilience of the Visteon/Ford workers who, after a four-week sit-in, have cautiously agreed to accept a settlement which offers enhanced redundancy payments.
Just four weeks ago, the workers were given five minutes' notice that the plant was going into administration and workers, many of whom had given decades of service, were going to get only basic statutory redundancy pay.
Visteon/Ford wanted to trample all over workers' rights and employment rights.
Bravely, the workers in Belfast decided to take protest action. The Visteon workers were not only taking this action for themselves, but for all workers who face unjust and unfair treatment from employers.
The level of support and solidarity the workers received from the west Belfast community, fellow workers and unions throughout Ireland and the UK was incredible.
It is a credit to the workers and their Unite union that, through determined action and tough negotiating, the management was forced to improve the deal. Officials have rightly said “it was a hollow victory” because the plant has closed and 200 jobs have been lost.
We must all ensure that Visteon honours the deal and makes speedy payments to the workers.
Workers must also get proper support in terms of retraining and redeployment.
It is now time to ask serious questions of Government departments and InvestNI about job creation and inward investment into west Belfast.
Over the last few years, west Belfast has lost jobs in Bass Ireland, Trivirix and now Visteon.
We need a new and invigorated strategy to support and keep local jobs in west Belfast.
Cllr Tim Attwood (SDLP) Belfast