Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/7608
Save our Vestas! Nationalise now!
Socialist Party Bulletin Number Three, 4 August 2009
Click here for a model motion (Word doc).
Update: Vestas management have today won a possession order to remove the workers from the Newport occupation but the workers are continuing their occupation tonight.
Well into the second week of the occupation, the Vestas workers are standing firm.
The march through town last Saturday and daily protests at 6pm outside the factory gate show the wide support for their struggle that exists across the Island.
The marches are an important boost to the morale of the workers.
Sunday evening's protest, through the wonders of modern technology, was addressed by a Thomas Cook worker involved in a sit-in protest in Dublin.
The tactics of the Thomas Cook workers were inspired by Vestas and show that the stand being made here is a beacon to workers across the world.
Michelin Star grub
Thanks to mass pressure and the RMT's legal team, food supplies got into the factory on Saturday evening. It seemed the situation was resolved but on Sunday Vestas management claimed that this had simply been "a goodwill gesture". They complained that they were "not running a Michelin Star restaurant".
Vestas workers don't want Jamie Oliver to cook for them, they just want the basic human right to food (and maybe a bit of tobacco) recognised. Mass pressure needs to be stepped up to resolve this situation immediately.
Nationalise to save jobs
We must not forget how callous management served dismissal notices to the occupiers hidden under pizza! What sort of scum think up tactics like that?
The occupiers should be reinstated immediately and the whole weight of the trade union movement needs to be brought to bear, forcing the government to nationalise Vestas to save jobs for the long term. Brown and Miliband talk about creating green jobs but what about saving green jobs that already exist? Vestas should become a key building block to a publicly owned green sector, creating jobs and saving the environment for future generations.
The RMT's role in backing these workers to the hilt has been exemplary. Theirs is an example to the rest of the trade union movement. Now, belatedly the TUC has been forced to back the Vestas workers. They have issued a statement of support.
We say the TUC should put its money where its mouth is and fund coaches from across the country to take part in protests on the Island.
If the injunction is served on Tuesday, this will be doubly important. Any attempt to carry through the injunction will create huge anger.
The whole of the trade union movement needs to be ready to tap into this with transport to the Island organised, with mass blockades of thousands and action, including walk-outs and strikes if necessary.
In the 1970s the jailing of the Pentonville Five dockworkers created such anger from below that the TUC were forced to call a general strike. Any moves against the Vestas workers could have a similar effect.
This dispute has shaken the entire Island and whatever the outcome, things will not be the same again.
After this immediate struggle is over the trade union movement must ensure that no one involved in the occupation is victimised.
The main political parties have been exposed in the eyes of many by not supporting Vestas workers.
When it comes to the next election why doesn't one of the Vestas workers stand? A working class MP on the Island now would have things easier for us.
Let's make sure that workers have a political voice in the future.
Vestas workers demand:
- Immediate union recognition.
- No to job cuts - Keep the factory open.
- Nationalise the factory under workers' control - power to the shop floor.
- Make the plant a building block for a new publicly owned green sector to provide more jobs.
Outside the plant every day at 6pm
For more information contact
Ben Norman on 07957 505263
Message of support from Socialist Party MEP
From Joe Higgins, Ireland's Socialist MEP
I wish to express my solidarity with your occupation and campaign to save Vestas. The disgusting attempts of Vestas to force you out through starvation, intimidation and injunctions demonstrate that you are having a significant impact.
Your struggle is an inspiration to me and to socialists and activists across the world.
In Ireland, hundreds of thousands have lost, their jobs in the last months as the burden for the economic crisis is heaped onto working people. It is largely the same the world over.
Your determined occupation provides a vital, lesson for those faced with similar factory closures. By occupying you have prevented the factory being shut and have created the necessary conditions for a potential historic victory.
Similarly the call for the nationalisation of Vestas, is crucial in my opinion. If the governments of the world can afford to bail out the banks, why can Vestas workers and others in similar situations not be bailed out?
Your struggle is a vital one for workers not only in Britain, but across Europe and indeed the world. A victory would be a massive inspiration and lesson to those who campaign against climate change and the millions who face redundancy.
Let me know of any way I can be of help.
Joe Higgins MEP, Socialist Party in Ireland, sister party of the Socialist Party (England and Wales)
The Socialist Party gives full backing to the Vestas workers. Our members play a full role in their trade unions and Socialist Party members hold positions on the national executives of a number of unions including the PCS (civil servants), Unison (public sector workers) the CWU (postal and telecoms union) and the FBU (Fire Brigades Union).
We campaign for democratic fighting unions and for those unions who are affiliated to New Labour to break this link. During the recent European elections we stood candidates under the "No to EU" banner alongside the RMT. We stand for workers' MPs on a worker's wage.