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Isle of Wight


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From: The Socialist issue 589, 29 July 2009: Nationalise to save jobs and the environment

Search site for keywords: Vestas - Jobs - Environment - RMT - Isle of Wight

Support Vestas workers

Nationalise to save jobs and the environment

Vestas wind turbine plant workers occupy to protest against redundancies, photo RMT television

Vestas wind turbine plant workers occupy to protest against redundancies, photo RMT television

The 25 Vestas workers occupying the wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight have created an international furore over jobs and the future of the environment. They have huge support from their work colleagues, families and workers on the Isle of Wight and beyond.

Nick Chaffey

Mass rallies every night have sustained morale, with over 500 at a demo on the evening of 24 July. Decisively, the support of local transport and offshore union RMT officers and the commitment of the RMT to provide legal support has given the Vestas workers a huge boost.

Three times Vestas management have tried to intimidate workers with threats of forcible eviction and the removal of redundancy payments if they don't leave. Each time the occupation has stood firm and the decision to stay has been applauded by hundreds attending the evening rallies.

On 23 July the company served a court injunction on the occupiers to appear in court on 29 July. This coincided with the visit of RMT general secretary Bob Crow who pledged the full support of the union to assist their legal representation.

He said to warm applause: "These people just can't come along and use us like pieces of lemon - squeeze the juice out of us when they want us to work for them and then toss us to one side when they don't. This government tells us they are a green government... If you've got a bowler hat and you're a banker you get their support. If you build wind turbines you should get the same support."

Large numbers of Vestas workers - previously without union representation at the plant - have now joined the RMT. They have established a strike committee and elected reps.

"Should we stay or should we go?", was the question raised by Steve, one of the workers, at the mass rally in response to Vestas chairman Peter Kruse saying that Vestas would not change their minds and workers should go home. The unanimous response was: "We are staying!".

This was echoed by Mark Stringer, one of the original occupiers who made an emotional speech to the demo: "I got involved because there is little chance of another job on the Isle of Wight and I have a family to support. We are here to stay."

Solidarity messages and cash have poured in. Visits from Unite Linamar convenor Rob Williams and Socialist Party councillor Rob Windsor, as well as Visteon workers and Unite activist Jerry Hicks, have helped build the confidence of the Vestas workers.

Vestas workers demand nationalisation, photo RMT television

Vestas workers demand nationalisation, photo RMT television

PCS assistant general secretary Chris Baugh has issued a statement on behalf of the PCS national executive: "The government has just announced plans to create 400,000 green jobs over the next five years and a huge expansion of renewable energy - yet it seems unwilling to step in to save 600 jobs at Vestas... We call on the government to intervene to save the plant in the interests of the Vestas workers, the regional economy on the Isle of Wight, the future of the renewables industry in the UK and to show that it is serious about meeting the UK's climate change commitments."

The best solution to the current crisis at Vestas is nationalisation. From the start this has been a clear demand of the occupiers and the Vestas workers.

This fight has enormous support, the occupiers are determined, as are the Vestas workers outside. A victory for the Vestas workers would be a victory for all workers facing the bosses' knife!

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