Ian Terry, one of the youngest Vestas occupiers, spoke to Socialist Worker about his experiences and where the struggle should go now.
‘I wanted our occupation to raise awareness and I think it did. When people don’t act, things don’t get done.
I’ve never been an activist, I’ve been working since I was 16, but I came at this from an environmental perspective. I wanted to have a “green job”.
I lived with my Nan since I was very young and couldn’t expect her to fund me, so I got a job straight after school.
Learning is important but it wasn’t an option for me. But I learnt so much in the past three weeks. I think that’s the same for everyone—our ideas developed in leaps and bounds.
I think everyone should be in a union. Not all union leaders do what’s called for, but if you’re part of it you can put pressure on them. Some managements ban union organisation—but we should ignore the rules and set them up anyway.
At the end of the day intimidation is management’s only tool. Sticking together, defending each other, and calling the bosses to account can defeat that. Otherwise they’ll walk all over you.
The key is encouraging people to have confidence in themselves, that we can stand up. And people did stand up for each other in the occupation.
In the past I didn’t believe that change could come from workers.
But this process has proved to me that if you stand up collectively then you can inspire other people to do the same.
I think the workers’ movement needs more confidence. We should realise that we can change things.
Occupations don’t happen very often, but at times like this they need to spread quickly.
We need a massive redistribution of power in society. People are elected but don’t ask opinions between elections. We vote once every four years and that’s it—and if we disagree with our politicians we get no say.
The government should be there as a tool for democracy, instead of a ruling force.
Every day people are affected by the decisions that politicians make but have no say. Bankers and governments dictate how we live.
Before I thought it was a lost cause, ordinary people talking power. But now I think it is important that we do not just yield to them.
While decisions are driven by profit there’s no chance of doing good for people and producing what people need.
The people at the top, the bankers, the MPs and the bosses, all get fat wallets—which may be good for them but it’s no good for the rest of us.
Nationalisation or compulsory purchase is still an option for the Vestas plant.
The government can take it off them to save the jobs and do something for the environment.
Business dictates the way the system is run, but we need a system based on the needs of people.
I’ll keep on encouraging people in struggle. Even when this fight is won, there will be plenty of other battles.
I don’t think having workers occupying their factory is the end of it, but if it encourages others to stand up, then this fight is very important for all.’