Belfast Telegraph

Sacked Visteon staff take crusade to Downing Street.

Sacked Visteon workers from Belfast have handed in a petition at Downing Street.

The 12-strong group’s visit to London coincided with a meeting between MPs and senior Ford executives at Westminster.

More than 200 workers based in the former Visteon plant at Finaghy received five minutes’ notice before being sacked in March 2009. The group joined more than 300 sacked workers from across Britain to hand a petition into Downing Street yesterday demanding the Government intervenes in a pension dispute with the multi-national car firm.

Although Visteon is a subsidiary of Ford, the car giant attempted to wash its hands of responsibility for the workers when four plants were closed in 2009.

Angry staff in Belfast occupied their Finaghy factory and refused to quit until adequate redundancy packages were in place. The fallout has continued with many former workers having their pensions slashed because of a huge deficit in Visteon’s pension fund.

Unite union spokesman Gerry Campbell travelled to London yesterday. He says former Visteon employees are determined to continue fighting for full pensions.

He said: “We are calling for an investigation into the closure and Ford’s role in it. Some of the people affected have lost up to 45% of their pension. Ford’s top two executives earned £100m between them last year and the company totalled £6bn in profit.”

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson attended the meeting and grilled the Ford chiefs.

He said: “I raised with the chairman and the executives that assurances had been given to me and the trade unions at the time Visteon was started and employment was transferred from Ford to Visteon that guarantees were given regarding their pension entitlement. We pointed out if there was no legal responsibility, there certainly is a moral responsibility on the part of Ford to meet the requirements of the former Visteon workforce.”

After yesterday’s meeting, a spokesman for Ford said: “Whilst Ford recognises the severity of the situation for former Visteon UK employees, its position remains unchanged, namely that the responsibility for the failure of Visteon UK lies solely with Visteon UK management.”

Dumped on scrapheap after lifetime of loyalty

Glengormley man Donal Murphy worked at Visteon’s Finaghy plant for 40 years before being made redundant in 2009. Despite his first class honours degree, the 59-year-old is now unable to find a job. Donal is one of hundreds of former Visteon workers whose pensions have been slashed

I worked with Ford for 31 years and then spent nine years working for Visteon. I started out as an apprentice when I was 17 and by the time the plant closed I was a shift manager.

We worked a three-shift system, and basically that meant I was the boss during my shift. Everyone reported to me.

When we lost our jobs I was totally gutted. But some of the lads said “hold on a second”.

It was spontaneous; a crowd of boys went down and took over the main gates and informed the administrators they weren't going anywhere. I have tried to get another job for the past two years, but I am 59 this year and can’t get one.

I am skilled and I have a degree. It does have an effect on my morale.

I worked there for 40 years and for the last six or seven years I was planning for an early retirement. I knew what pension I would have been getting and had plans around it.

I used to say all the effort would be worth it in the end.

But after all our hard work day and night, never taking time out, we have been put in this position.

I have two kids in Australia and our plan was to visit them every couple of years. We were also thinking about a world trip.

I spent some of my redundancy taking one trip to Australia, but there won’t be any more as I am not comfortable enough financially to be able to do it.

I used to change my car every three years but there won’t be any more new cars now. The truth is we are now counting the pennies and my standard of living has gone down.

I am now supplementing my meagre pension with some of my savings, and now even they are starting to wither away.

I was a Ford man and I loved that company. Some people might think that a strange thing to say. I felt as if I was a member of the Ford family. It looked after me all those years.

It was a fantastic firm and I find it really hard to believe and accept they would do this to us.

Losing our jobs was like your parents throwing you out of the house and turning their back on you.

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