Ford Motor Co., Dearborn, Mich., was sued in London by Britain’s Unite labor union over claims the automaker wrongfully encouraged workers to move to Visteon Corp.’s U.K. unit before it went into administration in 2009.
Ford gave hundreds of Unite employees “misleading” advice about risk to their pension assets before they decided to transfer to the carmaker’s former auto-parts unit, the union said Friday in a statement. The workers later lost their jobs and some of their pensions when Visteon sought court protection, it said.
“Ford has a legal and a moral obligation to the thousands of ex-employees who paid into its pension scheme all their working lives,” Roger Maddison, the union’s national officer, said in the statement. The lawsuit was filed Friday in the High Court in London, he said.
Visteon U.K. entered administration in March 2009. The U.S. parent filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. two months later, citing the faltering economy and slowing auto sales.
The union claims Ford is liable for the £350 million ($555 million) “black hole” in Visteon’s pension scheme when the company filed for bankruptcy in 2009, according to the statement.
Brian Bennett, a spokesman for Ford, said the company hasn’t received claims from Unite.
Visteon, Van Buren Township, Mich., was spun off from Ford in June 2000 to give it more freedom to sell to other automakers. It emerged from court protection in October 2010 after reducing its debt by about $2.1 billion. It had $315 million in non-U.S. pension assets as of the end of 2009, according to its latest 10-K filing.
Drew Carter contributed to this report.