Visteon dispute

A new period of class struggle

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Unofficial strikes, occupations and rank and file action - we need to learn from the new struggles by trade unionists and non-unionised workers alike, argues Charlie Kimber.

The occupation at the Vestas wind turbine plant, the support it has generated, and the global publicity it gained confirm that we are in a new period of class struggle. The initial effect of soaring unemployment was to panic most union leaders into abject surrender and to make many workers doubt their ability to fight.

How we found the confidence to organise and take over our factory

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When a group of ununionised Vestas workers occupied their factory this summer they had to learn fast. Vestas worker Ian Terry writes about the lessons of the struggle.

I gave myself a mission to get an environmentally friendly job, something that didn't stress me out and I could take something positive away from. I got to Vestas and realised that everyone was bullied by management. Health and safety was not up to scratch. They claimed at the start that there was no expense spared, but air extraction wasn't good enough and people were getting resin on their skin. When I first started we didn't have a finishing time - it was work until the job's done. They'd just have you working more. They'd move the goal posts, make you clean the floors and so on.

Victory at Visteon

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When we finally won the redundancy money we fought for we called off our 24-hour picket. Our last day was good, but sad at the same time. There'll be no more going to work.

We have been so busy doing picket duty and meetings. Now that it's over we have been going to meetings to thank everybody who supported us.

We will start getting up in the morning to nothing - what will we do with our time? We know there are few jobs about and plenty of people all going for them so what chance do I have out in the market place? Not a lot.

Occupations that send a powerful message

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Three decades of the neoliberal project have wrought significant changes to British society, all with New Labour's unabashed aim of making Britain "the most business friendly environment in Europe".

The measures taken to make Britain a playground for the rich have left the country exposed to the forces unleashed by the global economic crisis. We are faced with the deepest recession in living memory with a package of cuts to match.

Visteon: A life-changing struggle

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The occupation at former Ford plant Visteon wasn't planned. We came down here to get our personal belongings after we heard that we had all been sacked with immediate effect.

But one of the doors was open so everybody just ran in and decided to stay.

We barricaded all the doors so security couldn't get to us. Straight away we were getting donations of food brought to us. Kurds, Italians, Jamaicans, Turkish people - every nationality that lives in the country was cooking for us. It was quite emotional. All these people who didn't know us came along to give us their support, to feed us, to bring supplies of sleeping bags, toiletries. I've never seen that in my life - so many people came to strangers and put their hand out.

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