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Today, July 29, the Vestas management goes to court to obtain a court order allowing them to evict the workers that have occupied the factory in order to keep it open and continue the production of wind turbines.
WDIE wishes the workers every success in their occupation and in their determination to thwart the dictate of the Vestas owners of capital.
The Vestas workers are being guided by the decisions of their own collective, and their stand in upholding and defending their rights. This is the essence of being political.
The workers have the support of class conscious workers and of progressive people not only on the Isle of Wight but nationally and internationally, and can be justly proud of their struggle.
All Success to the Vestas Workers!
Keep Vestas Open!
Rydes Trades Council, July 28, 2009,http://rtuc.wordpress.com/
Working men and women of the Vestas Factory!
29th July should be memorable days for all of us…. the day of the court subpoena. You Wind Turbine Workers, by your solid resistance to the employer’s pressure have proved that at a difficult moment there are still people in our midst who can uphold our common interests as workers, that employers have not yet succeeded in turning us into slaves.
Stand firm and steadfast and carry on to the very end; let us remember that we can improve our conditions only by our common struggle. Do not be intimidated by the employers, the state and its courts and police protectors.
Above all, comrades, don’t fall into the trap so cunningly prepared for you by Vestas. They reason as follows:
Come out and we won’t be so hard on you. We can return to the closure status quo with a pittance of redundancy to go home with and maybe a reference. If we keep to our previous working conditions we shall not get the profits we got previously…. And we are not ready to take anything less…. So then, we’ll have to tighten up on the workers, let them shoulder the cost of the British market. So we will have to export capital to the USA. We can’t deal with this situation on our own, we must call in the authorities to help us as they usually do. That is their job to protect private property and business rights. But now we have to be clever because these workers have stood up and occupied our premises. So we need to use divide and rule, offer a few titbits and give a few a job at the research facility. If we tackle all of them at once from now on, they will all rise up at once, and we shan’t be able to handle them. So we shall first dupe some of them and break their solidarity.
Working people can never accept the reasoning of these kind of employers!
These Vestas employers never gave us decent working conditions whilst production was going. They never allowed us to unionise. They sacked those that protested too much and dared to organise.
Don’t forget, that all over the Isle of Wight it is considered enough to pay a minimum wage or thereabouts. We must force them here, to cut down their greed. They should not be able to simply up sticks and move out. In defending these demands, we are not rebelling at all; we are merely demanding that we be given what all the workers of other factories should enjoy by law, the return of what has been taken from us by those who placed all their hopes on our inability to uphold our own rights.
WDIE interviewed Tony Kelly, Secretary of the Ryde and East Wight Trade Union Council
WDIE: Could you tell us about the role of the Trades Council in the struggle of the Vestas workers?
Tony Kelly: The Ryde Trades Council is a respected body on the Isle of Wight, and has had a role in supporting and uniting workers, trade unionists, political people and the community as a whole. It was the first organisation to hold a public meeting on the issue of the pending closure of Vestas. We invited the Vestas workers to attend the meeting, and at first they were quite nervous of the idea of a meeting. But as it turned out, once they had participated in this public meeting, they gained the confidence to hold their own meeting. They thought of this as their “second meeting”. At this, they formed a committee to discuss the situation and to enable them to decide on what actions to take. So although they were un-unionised and the Vestas management is anti-union, once they formed their own committee things moved forward.
The Trades Council is assisting the workers in their struggle and everyone that has come here to support them by, for example, providing facilities, an office, the address for donations and messages of support, an account book, simple things like that. But we don’t try to tell the workers what to do, but we give what advice we can and what support we can, both moral and physical. In return, all the young people who make use of the facilities we can provide are very responsible and treat them with respect.
The Trades Council is trying to make a register of all people who have written in support. Cheques to support the struggle are beginning to come in and this is very heartening. One, for example, which was for £200 just came with a scrap of paper saying, “For Vestas”.
We go down to the factory, speak to the people who are there to support the occupation and those workers who are picketing, let them know we are there, and in general show that they do have widespread support.
We are confident that whatever the final outcome, something positive will definitely come of the struggle. We are building a strong core of people who maintain union connections, and who are bound to work together locally in the future.
WDIE: How are things at the picket?
Tony Kelly: There are banners, and quite good support, though of course we would be happy to have even more people supporting the workers’ occupation! We have very good relations with the local RMT union who we have had contact with for many years, and there is a growing realisation that together we can do something which will make a difference.
We have our own Rydes Trade Council banner there, at first on its own, but now with that of the RMT and a number of other banners. Despite the initial interest from the news media such as the BBC, now they seem to be downplaying it a bit.
With all the messages of support we have received, we are forming a wall for people to read.
I would like to mention three councillors who have come down to the factory to make tea, cook meals and so on. This is not to promote the party they represent, which is the Lib Dems, but I just thought that it was inspiring to see one particular councillor who had the courage to support, pitch a tent outside the factory, and throw himself into the struggle. That is the spirit of everyone outside the factory, who are taking a stand against being intimidated.
WDIE: Can you say something on the state of the economy on the Isle of Wight?
Tony Kelly: On the same estate as the Vestas plant, there used to be the Isle of Wight Business Enterprise whose object was to attract jobs from the mainland to the island. The Trades Council visited it about a year ago, and it was a showcase for the island. Now it has been closed down. Just before you get to Vestas, there used to be a toy library. This has now closed and the staff made redundant. What we are pointing out now is what will happen to the Island’s economy if 600 jobs go? Our stand is that more should be put into the economy of the Island than is taken out.
WDIE: How do you see things developing in the immediate future?
Tony Kelly: On Wednesday, the Vestas management is seeking a court order from the magistrates court in Newport to evict the occupying workers. RMT is giving legal support. At the same time, it seems as though Vestas may be playing a waiting game.
The £6m that has been in the news that Ed Miliband has announced was, in fact, offered some time ago. In my opinion, it is an example of paying the rich. It just helps Vestas, keeping people on who are managers, and is an attempt to divide the workforce. In fact, one of the banners outside the factory reads, “jobs for the boys”, that is, the managers! The government are trying to use tactics for their own purposes and not to meet the just demands of the workers.
The workers in the factory are all young, as are their wives and kids. For the first time in their lives they are getting involved in real life class struggle. We will see on Wednesday what happens at the court, but whatever the outcome it will be good experience for the community and the workers.
Personally, I am very angry about the way politicians from the big parliamentary parties have washed their hands of responsibility for the economy of the Isle of Wight, and of the country as a whole. When it was suggested that one solution would be for the government to take responsibility for keeping production going at Vestas, it was put forward by these politicians that this is a discredited idea. But what could be more discredited than this political and economic system which has caused massive unemployment, that is full of disgraced MPs, and disgruntled voters! I think that the solutions that the workers themselves are working out are altogether more coherent!
The Occupation............Tony Kelly with the messages of support for the Vesta workers
Band playing to the occupiers and supporters ........................Demonstration in Newport
Isle of Wight Friends of Palestine congratulates the workers at Vestas on their success in politicising their fellow Islanders.
As Steve Biko said, “The greatest weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed“. ‘Idiot’ comes from the Greek ‘idiotes’, which was the term used to describe someone who took no part in the public life of the city. In our society we have very little incentive to acquire political knowledge, since all we are asked to do is to choose a political party every 4-5 years – and then it makes little difference as most legislation is devised by unelected European Commissioners. According to Conservative Friends of Israel, 80% of Conservative MPs are members and David Cameron is also an avowed Zionist. But then so is Gordon Brown. Brown has appointed many other pro-Zionists to key positions in the Foreign Office, media, Europe and MI5. The recent parliamentary debate on illegal Israeli settlements was chaired by the secretary to the parliamentary group of Conservative Friends of Israel.
Government ministers claim they are committed to supporting renewable energy programmes, but are apparently powerless to keep Vestas on the Island. The fact that 600 on the IOW will become unemployed is irrelevant. The market rules.
No one on the Isle of Wight wants to see Vestas close. Few on the Isle of Wight wanted to see Israel bomb thousands in Gaza to smithereens in January, with illegal weapons 95% of which were supplied courtesy of North American taxpayers. However, the population of Gaza (which is the same size as the Isle of Wight but with over the 10 times the density of population, over half of whom are children) is still under daily attack on their beaches and farmland near the border and is additionally under a cruel siege which prevents anything other than medical equipment and a very limited range of food from entering Gaza. Books, building materials, bedding, toys, playground equipment, musical instruments, bicycles, footballs, clothing, needles and thread, crayons, tea, toilet paper, tomato paste and most other items are banned. As Western governments continue to support Israel, Gazans know it is only a matter of time before they are attacked by Israel again.
In the face of government inaction – or worse – protest must be used to raise public consciousness. This is why IOW Friends of Palestine will be taking two vehicles of aid to Gaza in October, in an attempt to break the siege. How many wheelchairs, blankets, camping stoves and footballs are allowed across the border is not the point. The Israeli navy recently prevented the crew of Free Gaza’s boat ‘The Spirit of Humanity’ from delivering medical supplies, crayons and cement for rebuilding to Gaza. Despite the fact that ’The Spirit of Humanity’ was in international waters, the Israelis arrested the 21 internationals and imprisoned them in Israel. Free Gaza’s response is to send a further three boats in August.
On previous occasions, the Israeli navy has fired at and rammed Free Gaza boats. Our government does nothing. On the contrary, Gordon Brown has offered to send the British Navy to help Israel besiege Gaza! While Israel bombed Gaza, the European Parliament hosted a banquet for the Israeli foreign minister, to discuss increasing trade links, and the European Court of Human Rights is currently passing laws that will criminalise encouraging others to boycott Israeli goods, on the grounds that it would disadvantage Israeli businessmen (including those who produce their goods illegally on land that even the UN agrees has been stolen from the Palestinians).
Our political representatives say they are powerless to influence Israel. So much for democracy. Who calls the shots? Vestas workers rightly question EU legislation designed to maximise profits for the few and criminalise dissent. Our heartfelt thanks to the workers of Vestas for refusing to accept defeat. There is widespread discontent on the Island and throughout the country and a growing awareness of a political structure that is designed to disempower ordinary people and concentrate power and money in the hands of the few. Your action inspires us all to refuse to settle for injustice and continue the struggle for a better, fairer world. As the great Polish liberator, Jozef Pilsudski said “To be defeated and not to yield is victory“. We’ll be at the rally in St Thomas’ Square this afternoon.
RMT, July 24 2009
Offshore energy union RMT today confirmed that it will be providing legal assistance to the workers involved in the Vestas turbine factory occupation on the Isle of Wight at a possession hearing scheduled for next Wednesday (29 July).
RMT, which represents a substantial proportion of the Vestas workforce, are also writing today to Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband and Vestas company chiefs in Denmark seeking urgent talks aimed at saving the factory which is due to close next Friday.
At a rally at the factory last night, RMT general secretary Bob Crow confirmed that the union was making contingency arrangements to get food, water and other supplies into the factory, including the possible use of a helicopter, to prevent the workers from being starved into submission.
Bob Crow, RMT general secretary, said today:
“The whole of the trade union and environmental movement should be proud of the courage and determination being shown by the workers at Vestas in the teeth of threats and intimidation. We all have a duty to ensure that they are not beaten into submission.
“This dispute brings together two crucial issues – the right to protection from companies who abuse the law to hire and fire and the right to live in a world where the environment and sustainability are absolute priorities.
“We are demanding an urgent intervention from Ed Miliband today. The government stand accused of sheer hypocrisy over their public announcements on climate change while our only wind turbine factory faces the axe. If the government can nationalise the banks at the drop of a hat there is no reason whatsoever why they can’t nationalise Vestas.”
Geoff Martin [RMT]
Bob Crow, RMT general secretary, said on July 28:
“Tomorrow a court will hear an application to evict protesters from the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight who are fighting to save 625 skilled manufacturing jobs in renewable energy. Compare that to the rhetoric of Business Secretary Lord Mandelson who said today that our manufacturing base is at the heart of Britain’s knowledge economy.
“There’s a yawning chasm between the government’s statements on green jobs, energy and manufacturing and the brutal reality of the 625 Vestas workers on the Isle of Wight who are fighting back against a company who will dump them on the scrap heap on Friday if we don’t stop them.
“RMT challenges Lord Mandelson to visit the Vestas workers in occupation of their factory on the Isle of Wight and explain to them why their futures, and the futures of the wind turbine manufacturing in the UK, are on the line. If the Government can spend £1.4 trillion bailing out and nationalising the banks then there’s no reason why they can’t intervene and nationalise Vestas.”
28 July 2009
PCS Assistant General Secretary Chris Baugh is today visiting the Isle of Wight where he will meet members in government offices as part of a campaign to defend jobs on the island.
To show PCS support for renewable energy and green jobs, Chris will also be visiting the Vestas wind turbine plant on the island in Newport, which is facing closure at the end of the week with the loss of 600 jobs.
Commenting on the planned closure of the Vestas plants, Chris Baugh said: "PCS members’ jobs in government offices on the Isle of Wight are under threat too, so we are showing solidarity with the Vestas workers and actively supporting their campaign to save their jobs.
"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, the only wind turbine plant in England. We are calling on the government to intervene to save jobs on the Isle of Wight.
"We are also encouraging our members and branches to support the workers at Vestas by sending messages of solidarity and support."
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