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Visteon U.K. Retirees Continue Fight for Guaranteed Benefits, but Protest Fizzles When Exec Calls In Sick

December 2, 2009

More than 150 members of the collapsed Visteon UK Pension demonstrated at the South Wales Bridgend Ford Factory in support of their claim against Ford Motor Co. but ultimately were turned away when the company’s chief executive they wanted to see did not show because he said he was ill.

There is widespread anger among the 3,000 Visteon retirees that commitments made by Ford are now being sidestepped after Ford and Visteon Corp. promised “mirrored terms and conditions and pension safeguards.” As a result, some pensioners are seeing reductions in their pensions of 40 percent.

Andy Belch, a Visteon retiree and former senior manufacturing engineer at the Basildon, England, plants, said: “I worked for 38 years as a Ford employee and paid into the pension fund every day. I had only three months in the Visteon scheme. My pension has now been reduced by around 42 percent for the rest of my life, with limited future rises, despite commitments made by Ford to employees and unions at spinoff to protect my pension.”

Investigations by the Visteon Pension Action Group have reportedly shown that the Ford pension fund was 120 percent funded in 2000, but the final transfer to Visteon had a £49 million shortfall.

Ford made copper-bottomed promises to the workers before they were transferred to Visteon and we intend to hold them to those promises,” said Tony Woodley, the joint general secretary of the Unite trade union.

Filed by Anthony Clark of Plastics & Rubber Weekly, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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