Following on from the occupation of the Waterford Glass plant in February which managed to save some of the jobs and improve redundancy conditions workers in Belfast at Visteon occupied their factor last week. With plant closures happening across the island both these occupations provide an example of workers taking direct action to preserve jobs and/or force employers to improve on redundancy conditions. Here we present reports from WSM members from these occupations and background articles.

Visteon - Belfast

Hundreds rally in support of Visteon workers occupation (April 9th)
Over 200 people marched today from Andersonstown to the factory in Finachy for a rally, which was addressed by Unite Shop Stewards Charlie Maxwell and John Maxwell, including representatives from the SDLP and Sinn Fein.

Workers occupations spread at Visteon Plants (April 2nd)
Workers decided to take action on Tuesday after the car parts company announced without notice that administrators are being brought in with the loss of 210 jobs with minimum redundancy payments. A further 400 people will also lose there jobs across the UK. Even those who have been working at the plant for 30 years will be receiving £9,000 in redundancy payment with most getting less.

WSM audio interview from inside the plant with Unite shop steward and convenor John McGuire and interviews with Belfast Visteon workers at rally (Michael)(Gerry)(Rally at plant)

Why we have occupied Visteon, Enfield
The text of the leaflet produced by workers in occupation of the Ford Visteon factory in Enfield, London explaining why they had joined the occupations in Belfast and Enfield.

The issues behind the occupation - interviews with workers in the British Visteon plant

Waterford Workers on the ICTU March

Waterford Glass - Waterford

Clear as Crystal ... Waterford Shows the Way (WS 108, March)
The workers at Waterford Crystal occupying the plant are an example to us all. Rather than accept the closure of the business, the loss of all the jobs and the destruction of the area’s premier industry; workers seized the buildings making liquidation impossible for the receiver.

Audio: Waterford Crystal Workers Speak Out (Feb 10th)
Noel Atkins and Pat Phelan, Waterford Crystal workers and Unite Shop Stewards, travelled to Cork last night to speak out against the attempted closure of the plant. They spoke from the heart as workers tossed on the scrap heap after decades of service.

Support workers occupying Waterford Glass (Feb 3rd)
Workers have been occupying the Waterford Glass factory in Kilbarry for five days now after the receiver was unable to borrow further funds to keep the plant operating. Yesterday as 150 workers continued the occupation members of the Cork WSM visited the plant and interviewed Joe Kelly, the chairman of the Crystal Unite branch. The Cork branch later issued a statement in support of the occupation.

WSM audio interview with Joe Kelly from inside the occupation

Background articles

WSM position paper on the Trade Unions
This is the collective policy of the WSM as agreed at our national conferences that guides our work in the unions and workplaces in general.

Workers Without Bosses - Workers' Self-Management in Argentina (RBR8, 2004)
The original battle cry of Argentinean people "Que se vayan todos" - We want all of them out - that expressed the will to break with the corrupt bureaucracies, with the political class, turned out with all of them staying in the end. These experiences also highlight many of the problems anarchists elsewhere face in the wake of popular risings and they show us that the building of a libertarian society is not a matter of repeating clichés and slogans.

Argentina says "Enough" (WS69, March 2002)
On the 19th and 20th of December 2001, there was a major popular revolt in Argentina which among other things led to a large number of workplace occupations with workers putting these occupied factories back into production under their own self managment. Workers Solidarity 69 reported on the start of the process in early 2002.

Workers Self-management in Argentina (WS73, Nov 2002)
The most direct challenge to capitalism is the occupation of factories by workers. On the 1st of October last year, the workers of the Zanón ceramics factory in Neuquén, one of Latin America's largest ceramics producers, occupied their factory and have kept it running ever since. The bosses had stopped production, claiming the factory was no longer profitable and that they could no longer pay the workers. In similar circumstances in Buenos Aires, the female workers of the Brukman textile factory occupied their workplace and have been running their plant successfully for the last 10 months.

More articles from the WSM on workplace struggles