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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 September 2009

Vestas workers determined to continue fight for jobs

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)

Vestas wind turbine workers and their supporters rallied and took to the streets of Newport, Isle of Wight, on their day of action on 17 September.

They were buoyed up by their visit, as members of the RMT union, to the TUC Congress. "We were given a standing ovation by the TUC during Ed Miliband's speech...

"Later we discussed our concerns with Miliband and explained that Vestas had still not paid redundancy to the eleven of us sacked and he agreed to contact Vestas to sort this out. The support at TUC has kept up the pressure on the government and they have agreed to a meeting with us," reported Vestas worker Ian Terry.

At the TUC an RMT resolution, seconded by Unite, was passed applauding 'the Vestas workforce and their families who courageously fought to save their jobs, including occupying the factory' and calling for 'publicly owned wind turbine manufacturing capacity, including at the Vestas site'.

Locally the blockade of the factory continues. The Isle of Wight council, feeling the pressure of the campaign, have approached the Vestas workers to discuss the future of the company but also served an eviction notice on those camped outside the factory. On the night of Monday 21 September police forced out protesters but they reassembled the following day.

Then, on Tuesday, 120 police enabled the remaining turbine blades to be removed from the factory.

Nevertheless, Vestas workers remain determined to continue with their campaign. RMT Vestas members are meeting this week to discuss the way forward and what they will be doing next. Mark Smith said: "We are still receiving support from across the country and are attending meetings to build support for the campaign, including a visit to Belfast."

Nick Chaffey, Southampton

Successful solidarity meeting

Led by Wessex region RMT activists, Vestas workers and supporters marched from a protest outside the closed South-ampton Vestas factory to a rally at Southampton dockers' club where over 50 people turned up to hear about the campaign.

The meeting, organised by Wessex RMT, was chaired by Mick Tosh, RMT, with speakers Martine from Vestas, Pete Gale, RMT regional organiser, Ian Woodland, Unite officer and Nick Chaffey, Socialist Party.

"We are tired but determined to carry on", was the message from Martine, who thanked everyone for the magnificent support the campaign has received. The speakers and discussion focussed on the lessons of the fight of Vestas workers, the example they have set and how continued support needs to be built for the campaign.

Wider issues such as the need for a political voice to represent the struggles of Vestas workers and others was highlighted by Pete Gale: "Anyone who thinks New Labour will offer that support is mistaken, workers need a new party that will unite these struggles and give people a real alternative in the general election."

This meeting showed how the solidarity for disputes such as Vestas will bring together trade unionists, socialists and environmentalists and create the basis for such a new party.

The meeting agreed to continue with support for Vestas and organise further meetings to discuss the way forward.

Tim Cutter

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In The Socialist 22 September 2009:

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