Socialist Worker

Vestas day of action has wind in its sails

by Tom Walker
Issue No. 2167

Vestas workers occupying their plant - the campaign has already had a huge impact (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Vestas workers occupying their plant - the campaign has already had a huge impact (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Former Vestas wind turbine workers are calling on trade unionists, campaigners and climate activists to join a day of action planned for Thursday 17 September.

The day looks set to cause a stir, especially on the Isle of Wight where there is a real possibility that groups of workers may walkout in solidarity.

The Vestas workers occupied their factory on the Isle of Wight for more than two weeks to protest against its closure and the loss of 600 jobs.

Since the occupation ended last month the workers have fanned out across the country, building solidarity and sharing the lessons of their struggle.

Around 50 activists came together on Thursday of last week on the Isle of Wight to make plans for the day of action.

Those at the meeting included delegates from the Ryde and East Wight trades council and six trade unions, together with representatives of political parties, community and environmental campaigners.

The Vestas workers gave out posters they have produced with their demand for full nationalisation of the factory, and called for workplaces to do banner drops and wear green clothing and ribbons on the day.

They also resolved to book coaches to the demonstration at the Labour party conference in Brighton on 27 September.

“We want to transport the anger on the island to the mainland as Vestas workers lead the demonstration against the lies and failings of the government,” said one activist.

The meeting was given a boost when a letter from local Tory MP Andrew Turner and Tory council leader David Pugh was read out.

The letter demanded that the South East England Development Agency (Seeda) should force Vestas to sell its factory if it wants to receive further grants and subsidies.

Vestas plans to keep a small research and development operation going on the island – and the government is giving it millions of pounds to do so.

Jonathan Neale, who chaired the meeting, said, “Two right wing Tories intervening on our side might seem surprising. But that’s what mass pressure can do.

“Under pressure, Ed Miliband has already said the government will buy the factory. Now we’re putting Vestas under pressure to sell it. We need to keep it up.”

The Vestas workers are working hard to get their message out. In the last week they have visited the climate camp in south London (see » Climate Camp protesters swoop on London) and supported striking post workers.

Striking

They plan to visit striking bus workers on the Isle of Wight on Thursday of this week. The ongoing bus dispute means that this key group of workers could be out on strike on the Vestas workers’ day of action.

Rich Larcombe was one of the Vestas workers who went to the post picket line. “I’m new to industrial action and I imagine many other islanders are too,” he told Socialist Worker.

“But when I discovered that local postal workers were coming out on strike, I was eager to show solidarity.

“I wanted to let the postal workers know that they were not alone. My experiences at Vestas have made me appreciate how uplifting support from outside can be.”

The national day of action, if it is a success, can force the government into action.

Jaz Thomas, an FBU firefighters’ rep from Bristol, came to the Isle of Wight to offer support and join the discussions on how to make 17 September a day to remember.

He spent the day with the Vestas workers on the island.

“I was incredibly heartened by the sense of real action and the desire for change that I saw in the Vestas workers,” he said.

“They’re translating the injustice they’ve suffered into action for jobs, workers’ rights and a better world.”

For more information about the day of action on 17 September email savevestascampaign@yahoo.co.uk


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News
Tue 1 Sep 2009, 19:16 BST
Issue No. 2167
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