Unite Refuses To Represent Belfast Visteon Occupiers

Sacked Visteon workers picketing outside the company’s Basildon plant
Sacked Visteon workers picketing outside the company’s Basildon plant

THE legal attempt to remove sacked workers occupying the Visteon factory in west Belfast has been adjourned until Friday.

‘Whatever happens on Friday we won’t be leaving the factory,’ one of the occupiers told News Line yesterday.

‘Unite refused to represent us in the court yesterday, so we had to get our own barrister.

‘Morale is high and we are appealing to all trade unionists to support us.’

The case was brought to the High Court on Tuesday by the company’s administrators KPMG.

Legal representation was instructed at the last minute.

The barrister said he would challenge any eviction notice served on the workers who have occupied the site since they were sacked on March 31.

Over 600 jobs were lost at Visteon’s three plants in the UK, 210 of them in Belfast, with workers being given ten minutes notice of dismissal in all three plants.

The KPMG liquidator said it had no alternative but to close the factories.

It tried to maintain that the business had never been profitable and that Visteon UK had reported losses totalling £669m.

The workers insist that they want the guarantees on pay and conditions – given to them by Ford before it sold off the plants – honoured.

Craig Dunford, counsel for KPMG, told the court the occupiers would be unable to make a case for not leaving the site.

He said: ‘We say there’s absolutely no defence here.

‘We asked them to leave. We say that’s the end of the matter, tragic as that is, that’s the reality.’

Dunford said it was hard to see what arguments could be made to deny the eviction order being sought.

After referring to any possible technical objection, he said: ‘Other than that, we say we are entitled and there’s no reason not to make the order.’

Visteon sacked workers protested outside the KPMG offices in Belfast on Monday.

Meanwhile, Enfield and Basildon convenors were in talks with national Unite officials yesterday.

During a break, Basildon convenor Frank Jepson told News Line: ‘We’ll support Belfast, we are all in this together.

‘Whatever support Belfast need, we will give it.

‘We’ve had no news and are just taking things day by day.’

He said that Ford Europe boss Fleming had told Unite earlier this week that he had nothing to offer the Visteon workers.