‘It’s a massive victory from the situation on March 31 when Visteon sacked us with nothing,’ Piers Hood, Unite deputy convenor at the Visteon Enfield plant told News Line yesterday.
He was speaking in the wake of sacked workers at the plant voting on Saturday by 178-5 to accept a new redundancy offer from the company.
Hood added: ‘Everyone is happy. We would have liked our jobs back but most people are looking at £40,000 plus.
‘The stand of the three plants dragged Visteon back to the negotiating table.
‘It’s a tenfold increase on what we were first told and it shows that occupation pays.
‘You have to make the decision to stand and fight straightaway.
‘We are still picketing and we will stay on the picket line until things are all sorted out and the money is in people’s bank accounts.’
Basildon plant convenor Frank Jepson added: ‘Visteon was left with no choice and waved the little flag of surrender.
‘They knew we were getting stronger, not weaker.
‘The threat to picket Ford Bridgend and Dagenham hit home.
‘They knew we weren’t bluffing and would do whatever it takes to get justice.
‘We will continue to picket until the money is in the bank.’
Basildon sacked workers voted unanimously, 159 in favour, to accept the offer.
Last to vote was the still occupied Belfast plant.
Unite convenor John McGuire told News Line: ‘It’s not a victory because people have lost their jobs, but it is a victory that we got Ford Motor Company to put a proper financial settlement on the table.
‘It will be a total victory when we get Ford/Visteon in court for failing in their obligations to fund our pensions to the tune of £150m-£200m.
‘This shorfall is being paid for by the taxpayer and we intend to fight this through the courts.’
Commenting on the settlement he added: ‘It shows occupation pays.
‘We stood firm and we won’t be leaving until the money is in our bank accounts.’
Belfast voted 147-34 to accept the deal.
Unite – which never made the dispute and occupation of the Enfield and Belfast plants official, and subsequently did not sanction hardship pay – in a statement last Friday saluted the ‘dramatic fight for justice for 610 Visteon workers’.
It said: ‘The workers, members of Unite the union, were sacked last month with only six minute’s notice, in the process denied their rightful redundancy pay and their pensions hit.
‘Since then, the workers, supported fully by Unite, have led a high profile fight-back for just compensation, including the right to be considered for jobs at Ford, the former employer of the vast majority of the workforce.
‘Unite has been campaigning to ensure that neither Visteon nor Ford, given its historic, continuous association with the workforce, could walk away from the workers without paying them what is rightfully and morally theirs.
‘Now a renewed deal, which goes beyond even the Ford redundancy terms, has been accepted unanimously by the union’s convenors and shop stewards.’