LONDON (March 28, 11 a.m. ET) — Hundreds of former Visteon Corp. employees in the United Kingdom employees are taking to the streets of London today to call for a settlement of their pension claims against Ford Motor Co.
As the third anniversary of the collapse of the automotive component manufacturer approaches, the Visteon Pension Action Group (VPAG) hopes the latest in a series of demonstrations will put pressure on Ford to pay tens of millions of pounds in pension payments.
VPAG members from across the UK will deliver a letter of protest to 10 Downing Street and meet members of Parliament who have been following the case for the last three years.
Among VPAG's Parliamentary supporters is Tory Stephen Metcalfe, who tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) in November condemning Ford's stance over the issue.
The motion was signed by 36 members of Parliament from across the House, including Labor's Jeremy Corbyn and ex-Tory minister Peter Bottomley.
Last month the Visteon pension scheme transferred over to the government-backed Pension Protection Fund, which is believed to be paying out up to 230 million pounds sterling ($365 million) of the estimated 350 million pounds sterling ($556 million) shortfall claimed by VPAG.
Dennis Varney, a former Ford employee and a leading member of VPAG, said while this was good news “by default”, pensioners were still looking to Ford to pay out around £120 million.
“There are still lots of people who worked for Ford and had paid into a pension fund for years who are seriously out of pocket,” he said.
Employees saw the value of their pension slashed by up to 60 percent after Visteon UK went under in 2009. Varney said some pensioners were losing 60 pounds ($95) a month, others up to as much as 1,000 pounds ($1,589).
Today's protest was part of the ongoing fight to persuade Ford to deliver on its commitments, Varney said.
“This is about keeping people aware of our campaign in the run up to the High Court hearing next January where we will pursue our claims against Ford.
“We're in regular talks with [members of Parliament] like Stephen Metcalfe who support our cause,” he added.
After being spun out of Ford in 2000, Visteon UK went into administration at the end of March 2009, a move which saw nearly 600 people lose their jobs.
VPAG claims Ford created Visteon UK “as a contrivance” in order to “dump” component manufacturing and that it knew such operations had ceased to be competitive.
However Ford has rejected this argument, saying it was not involved in the decision to put the company into administration.
In a statement the carmaker said it “believes that questions regarding Visteon UK being placed into administration and the subsequent impact on the Visteon Pension Fund should be answered by Visteon UK management and the trustees of the Visteon Pension Fund”.
Ford said it viewed the claims being pursued by VPAG in the High Court next year as “totally without merit”, adding that it would “defend its position vigorously.”