Trade union Unite will make a final decision on whether to take legal action against Ford over the Visteon pensions dispute at the end of the month, campaigners said today.
Members of the Visteon Pension Action Group said Unite was currently gathering statements from “key union employees” involved in the spin-off of automotive supplier Visteon, the UK subsidiary of which collapsed last year, from Ford in 2000.
Campaigners anticipate that Unite will commence legal proceedings against Ford on
the 31 March – exactly a year on from Visteon UK being placed into administration, which resulted in the loss of 600 jobs and the closure of several factories.
Visteon staff have always maintained that their pensions and terms and conditions of employment were guaranteed by Ford at the time of Visteon’s creation, but Ford denies this. Some workers have seen their pensions cut by up to 60% in the wake of Visteon’s demise.
Simon Harding of the Visteon Pension Action Group told PE: “We understand that the union is hoping to be in a position to make the key decision as to whether to commence legal proceedings against Ford by March 31.” Harding said he was “extremely optimistic that Unite will go ahead based on the opinions we have received by our own independent legal counsel”.
He added: “The March 31 date is critical in our eyes, as it is the anniversary of Visteon UK being put into administration. We are also getting more and more incidents of our members facing extreme financial hardship. The worst examples are members who have become widows or widowers since March who are having their pension payments reduced by a further 50% from the previously reduced levels.”
Former Visteon workers will protest against the cuts and highlight Ford’s alleged failure to provide full pensions in a protest at the Houses of Parliament at the end of the month. Almost 70 MPs have now backed a motion in Parliament tabled by Siân James, Labour MP for Swansea East, expressing “great concern” that Visteon staff were not receiving the pensions allegedly promised by Ford.
The Pensions Regulator is examining the Visteon workers’ case. It cannot comment on individual investigations.