Vestas wind turbine plant workers occupy and demonstrate against closure, supported by the RMT, photo Senan

Vestas wind turbine plant workers occupy and demonstrate against closure, supported by the RMT, photo Senan   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

“WHAT DO we want? Nationalisation”, “Vestas Out, Workers in!”, were the chants of Vestas workers and their supporters as we took to the streets of Sandown, Isle of Wight, on 22 August getting great support from locals and holiday-makers.

Nick Chaffey

The campaign to save Vestas jobs and secure a future for wind turbine manufacturing on the island continues to grow, building support across the trade union movement and wider community.

Everyone knows the devastating impact of losing these jobs. Job centre workers estimate the knock-on effect could total over 2,000 job cuts. With just over 100 jobs currently advertised in the island, unemployment is a looming reality for Vestas workers. For many this means the threat of losing their homes due to the lack of government support.

Vestas workers are still fighting for the reinstatement of the eleven workers sacked for occupying the plant and their right to redundancy money. There is also anger over proposals to provide Vestas with £6 million of government support to open new facilities on the island, despite the recent redundancies.

Vestas is also part of a consortium bidding to open an academy school on the island. Their compassion for children is in some doubt after their decision to sack many of the parents first!


Vestas wind turbine plant workers occupy and demonstrate against closure, photo Senan

Vestas wind turbine plant workers occupy and demonstrate against closure, photo Senan   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

The case for wind turbine production remains strong and the pressure needs to increase on the company to restart production. If they remain intransigent the government must be forced to step in and nationalise Vestas. This is the only solution – if it was good enough for the banks, why not Vestas?

Vestas workers are to attend September’s national Trade Union Congress as part of the RMT delegation. This platform must be used to gain the TUC’s unanimous support for the Vestas workers’ demand for nationalisation.

Alongside this a mass mobilisation on the island, drawing on the support of local trade unions and the community under the call for a national march for jobs on the island would be a visible show of strength and backing for the campaign.

New Labour, Tory and Liberal parties have failed to give unqualified support for this fight. This poses the urgent need for Vestas workers themselves to stand as election candidates on the island and link up with other workers, trade unionists and socialists who are taking steps to build a new workers’ party and stand candidates across the country in time for the general election.

The Vestas workers are organising a national day of action on Thursday 17 September and calling on supporters to hold local protests and rallies to highlight this important struggle.

Financial support – make cheques payable to Ryde and East Wight Trades Union Council, 22 Church Lane, Ryde, Isle of Wight, PO33 2NB.

Messages of support to
[email protected]

Building solidarity for struggle

SOCIALIST PARTY members joined the RMT union and Warrington Trades Council activists in distributing thousands of RMT leaflets at the Warrington Wolves v. Wakefield rugby match explaining the background to the Vestas dispute. Vestas is one of Warrington Wolves’ main sponsors.

Andy Ford Warrington Trades Council

Many fans described Vestas’ actions as “disgusting” and “profit mad”. Quite a few had been made redundant themselves recently – one at only two days notice – so there was instinctive working class solidarity.

Many also commented on the stupidity of letting manufacturing industries go to the wall. One retired worker advised us to leave the country while we were young! But he commended us when we said we had to stay and fight for decent, trade union-organised jobs.

Warrington is a proud working-class town – at one time it made two-thirds of the world’s wire and the team’s original name was the ‘Warrington Wire’ – but now not a single wire works survives. Fans clearly understood the Vestas dispute’s importance.

TRADE UNIONISTS, climate change protesters and members of the Socialist Party, Community Action Party and Respect protested outside Vestas UK headquarters in Warrington on 18 August.

Vestas had just announced 58 million euros profit for the three months to the end of June – yet still this greedy company has made hundreds of its workers redundant on the Isle of Wight. We pointed out that with a company this greedy the HQ may well be next.