Campaigners for Visteon workers who lost their pensions when the car parts manufacturer collapsed have taken their fight to the European Parliament.
Workers who transferred their accrued benefits after Visteon UK was spun off from parent company Ford claim they received guarantees from Ford that these benefits would be protected - which the company failed to honour (PP Online, 10 September, 2009).
The Visteon Pensioners Action Group has now secured the support of MEPs Derek Vaughan, Richard Howitt and Peter Skinner, and Vaughan raised the issue in the parliament.
In a written question, he asked if Transfer of Undertakings regulations had been contravened and whether a European Works Council agreement that Ford and
Visteon signed in January 2000 had been breached.
"Can the Commission outline what will be done to ensure that European law is respected and that these workers receive their full pension entitlement?" he continued.
In its response, the commission noted the EWC agreement guaranteed mirrored conditions and lifetime protection of accrued benefits.
"However, the Commission is not in a position to assess whether these provisions have been respected," said Mr Andor, speaking on behalf of the commission.
He said there was uncertainty over the status of transnational company agreements such as the EWC agreement signed between Ford and Visteon as there was no legal framework.
"...the Commission will consider new steps in order to support the development and implementation of transnational company agreements," he added.
VPAG spokesman Andy Belch said the group hoped to meet with MEPs to discuss the next step in June.
Unite national officer Roger Maddison - whose union is challenging Ford over its obligations to its former employees in the UK courts (PP Online, 26 January) - said the EWC document contained clear guarantees.
"Ford's claim is that the EWC clearly states that responsibility transfers to Visteon, but I don't think that stands up - they were up to the eyeballs in the closing down of Visteon," he added.
Maddison said the two legal teams involved in the UK case had yet to agree on an order of directions, which would set out a timetable for the proceedings.
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