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Workers Stage Sit-Ins at Insolvent Visteon U.K. Plants

April 6, 2009
Former employees at three bankrupt Visteon Corp. plants in the United Kingdom are staging sit-ins in hopes of negotiating better severance packages.

The auto supplier has placed three plants in insolvency, with court-ordered administrators closing the plants and cutting more than 500 jobs.

Visteon, of suburban Detroit, said the facilities have incurred “substantial losses” despite restructuring attempts, and the company must protect its overall global health.

The plants, once owned by Ford Motor Co., were spun off as part of Visteon when it was created in 2000.

Court-appointed administrators from New York auditing firm KPMG said in a March 31 statement that the facilities, operating as a wholly owned subsidiary, have never been profitable, with total losses of £669 million ($991 million). Visteon, its biggest creditor, is owed in excess of $593 million.

When the global operation decided it could no longer support the U.K. manufacturing, it was forced to send the units into insolvency, and the administrators decided they had no option but to close the plants, KPMG stated.

Workers at the plants have staged sit-ins—with up to 130 workers on the factory roof at Enfield, England, at one point—demanding to speak to Ford. Most of the protestors began working at the plants when Ford owned the factories and the bulk of production at the sites was for Ford.

Visteon officials said the matter is in the hands of the KPMG administrators, who have had no comment on the sit-in.

Derek Simpson, joint secretary for the British trade union Unite, said in a statement that he met with Ford’s European chairman, John Fleming, and urged Ford to help its former workers.

“I am convinced that Ford [has] a moral obligation to these workers who have been cruelly laid off with only a few minutes’ notice,” he said. “Visteon has a contractual obligation, as well as a moral obligation to these workers.”

Filed by Rhoda Miel of Plastics News, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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