Auto supplier Visteon Corp. has placed three plants in the United Kingdom in insolvency, with court-ordered administrators already closing the plants and cutting more than 500 jobs, although some former employees are staging sit-ins in hopes of negotiating better severance packages.
Two of the sites, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Enfield, England, are plastics molders. Belfast makes intake manifolds and throttle bodies, and Enfield molds interior parts including instrument panels and consoles. The third plant in Basildon, England, makes radiators and other metal parts.
Visteon's engineering operations in the U.K. are not affected by the insolvency.
Visteon, based in the Detroit suburb of Van Buren Township, said the facilities have incurred substantial losses despite restructuring attempts, and the company must protect its overall global health.
The plants were formed as part of Ford Motor Co. and spun off as part of Visteon when it was created in 2000. Court-appointed administrators from New York auditing firm KPMG LLP said in a March 31 press release that the facilities, operating as a wholly owned subsidiary, have never been profitable, with total losses of £669 million ($991 million). Visteon, its biggest creditor, is owed in excess of £400 million ($593 million).
When the global operation decided it could no longer support the U.K. manufacturing, it was forced to send the units into insolvency, and the administrators decided they had no option but to close the plants, KPMG stated.
Workers at the plants, however, have staged sit-ins with up to 130 workers on the factory roof at Enfield at one point demanding to speak to Ford. Most of the protestors began working at the plants when they were owned by Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford, and the bulk of production at the sites was for Ford.
Visteon officials said the matter is in the hands of the KPMG administrators, who have had no comment on the sit-in. Derek Simpson, joint secretary for the British trade union Unite, said in an April 3 news release that he met with Ford's European chairman, John Fleming, and urged Ford to help its former workers.
I am convinced that Ford [has] a moral obligation to these workers who have been cruelly laid off with only a few minutes' notice, he said. Visteon has a contractual obligation, as well as a moral obligation to these workers.
At the same time, Visteon has been battling to stay out of bankruptcy itself. Its stock has been selling for less than $1 per share and was removed from the New York Stock Exchange in March.