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Year 2009 No. 50, July 22, 2009 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

Support the Just Struggle of the Vestas Workers!

Workers' Daily Internet Edition: Article Index :

Support the Just Struggle of the Vestas Workers!

Collective Statement from the Vestas Workers

Vestas Workers Besieged by Riot Police

Events in Support of the Vestas Workers’ Struggle

PCS Support for the Campaign to Save Vestas

Background to the Vestas Struggle

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Support the Just Struggle of the Vestas Workers!

Vestas Occuoation Vestas Occupation

Workers at the Vestas Windsystems factory at Newport on the Isle of Wight, most of whom are young workers, have been discussing for some time how to combat the arrogant decision made over their heads to close down the plant. Their decision has been that they must get organised and fight to keep Vestas open. As a part of implementing this decision, a number of the workers have occupied the factory and there is also a large picket of around 200 outside the factory.

The Danish owners of Vestas made the decision to pull out and throw the 625 workers out of their jobs as though these workers were not human beings with their livelihoods at stake and their consciousness able to be applied to resolve the situation. The outlook of the government has been that private companies are there to do what they like, and that any outcome must take place only within the confines of the company’s dictate.

The government itself takes no responsibility, even given that this is the "renewable" technology that it is supposed to be the future. And it is attempting to clutch at any justification why it should remain aloof from the future of this industry and the fate of its workers into the bargain. Furthermore, in the manner of all those who would comment from the sidelines and not get to the heart of the matter, it is dragging into the argument a supposed contradiction between concerns over the crisis of global climate change and local concern about damage to the environment.

Vestas Occupation Climate Change Banner

The issue is and always has been that the people whose interests are involved should participate in making decisions about courses of action which affect their future. This is the principle that both the owners of capital and the government itself would rather not come to the fore.

The demand of the workers at Vestas in occupying offices at the factory is to Keep Vestas Open! They are pointing out not only that they have a right to their livelihoods, and that anyone who is forced to lose their jobs must get redundancy pay at a high level as of right. They are also pointing out that their struggle is of benefit to the Isle of Wight as a whole, and indeed to everyone in the society as they take a stand in favour of a renewable energy future and against the dictate of the owners of capital.

Success to the Struggle of the Vestas Workers!

Keep Vestas Open!

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Collective Statement from the Vestas Workers

As workers at a wind turbine manufacturer, we were confident that as the recession took hold that green or renewable energy would be the area where many jobs could be created – not lost.

So we were horrified to find out that our jobs were moving abroad and that more than 525 jobs from the Isle of Wight and Southampton were going to be added to the already poor state of island unemployment.

This has sent, and will continue to send, shockwaves of uncertainty through countless families on the island – many of which are being forced to relocate away from the island.

We find this hard to stomach as the government are getting away with claiming they are investing heavily in these types of industry.

Only last week they said they would create 400,000 green jobs. How can the process start with 600 of us losing our jobs?

Now I’m not sure about you but we think it’s about time that if the government can spend billions bailing out the banks – and even nationalise them – then surely they can do the same at Vestas.

The people of Vestas matter, and the people of the island matter, but equally importantly the people of this planet matter. We will not be brushed under the carpet by a government which is claiming to help us.

We have occupied our factory and call on the government to step in and nationalise it. We and many others believe it is essential that we continue to keep our factory open for our families and livelihoods, but also for the future of the planet.

We call on Ed Miliband as the relevant minister to come to the island and tell us to our face why it makes sense for the government to launch a campaign to expand green energy at the same moment at the country’s only major wind turbine producer closes.

Please show your support!

Demonstrate Friday 24th of July Friday 5.30pm St. Thomas square Newport.

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Vestas Workers Besieged by Riot Police

Updated press release from savevestas.wordpress.com, July 21

Workers staging a sit-in at the soon-to-close Vestas wind turbine plant on the Isle of Wight are being starved out by police.Riot Police

The police, many inside the factory and dressed in riot gear, have denied food to the workers who took over the factory offices last night, to protest about the closure of their factory. The police, operating with highly questionable legal authority, have surrounded the offices, preventing supporters from joining the sit-in, and preventing food from being brought to the protestors.

Around 20 workers at the Vestas Plant in Newport, on the Isle of Wight, occupied the top floor of offices in their factory to protest against its closure which will result in over 500 job losses.

Acting without an injunction, on private property, the police have repeatedly tried to break into the office where the protesting workers have barricaded themselves, and have threatened the workers with arrest for aggravated trespass, despite the fact that no damage has been done to the property where the protest is taking place. Police have also forcibly removed people from private property, another action that is of very questionable legality in the absence of a formal injunction.

The officer involved in the latter action was number 3606. The officer who appears to be in charge is 3115. It may help to let the local police authorities know that we are unhappy with their handling of the situation – in this case the email address to bombard is professional.standards@hampshire.pnn.police.uk

This heavy handed response is the latest in a long line of over-reactions to protest by various UK police forces.

Article Index

Events in Support of the Vestas Workers’ Struggle


Outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change, No 3 Whitehall Place, London
called by Campaign Against Climate Change
Wednesday 22nd July , 6.00 pm
(off Whitehall, Charing Cross tube)

Public Demonstration at St Thomas Square in Newport
5:30pm, Friday 24th July

Families and Communities Meeting
Wednesday 22nd July, 6.30-8.30pm at the Methodist Church Hall, Quay Street, Newport
The Save Vestas campaign is also setting up a campaign for Vestas workers’ families and Isle of Wight residents to show their support for keeping jobs at Vestas. For more details call 07775 763750.

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PCS Support for the Campaign to Save Vestas

The PCS union is supporting the campaign to save Vestas wind turbine plant on the Isle of Wight. It's the only wind turbine factory in England and threatened with closure on 31 July 2009.

This comes at a time when we need a huge expansion in renewable energy. Gordon Brown has promised to create 400,000 green jobs over the next 5 years - the first step would be to save the 600 jobs at Vestas that are under threat.

Unite, whose members' jobs are at risk, is working with Friends of the Earth to ask the Government to intervene to save the factory by taking it over to keep it producing, under new management. There is more information on the Save Vestas campaign website .

What you can do

  1. Sign the letter to Lord Mandelson on the FOE website
  2. Lobby energy minister Ed Miliband - e-mail milibande@parliament.uk or call 01302 875 462 (Doncaster constituency) or 020 7219 4778 (Westminster)
  3. Promote the campaign in your branch - collect signatures/donations (you can download a petition and a poster below). These should be returned to Tony Kelly, Secretary, Ryde and East Wight Trades Union Council, 22 Church Lane, Ryde, Isle of Wight, PO33 2NB. Email mailto:tony.kelly97@virgin.net
  4. If you are in the London area there is a demo on Wednesday 22 July at 6pm outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change, 3 Whitehall Place, off Whitehall, nearest tube Charing Cross
  5. On Friday 24 July at 6pm there is a public meeting  - ' Solidarity with the occupation at Vestas: save jobs, save the planet' - at University of London Union, Malet St (nearest tubes, Goodge Street/ Euston), central London. Speakers include PCS assistant general secretary Chris Baugh and a Vestas worker.
  6. Send a message of support from yourself or your branch by email to savevestas@googlemail.com or by text to 07980 703115 or 07970 739921 or 07733 388888
  7. There are also demonstrations on the Isle of Wight on Wednesday 22 and Friday 24 July - visit the campaign website for up to date details.

Article Index

Background to the Vestas Struggle

Wind turbine-maker Vestas Wind Systems announced that it was to cut 1,900 jobs worldwide – mainly in Britain and Denmark – despite reporting a 70% rise in quarterly profits. This represents 9% of its workforce. The Danish firm blamed "market oversupply".

The announcement came as Vestas reported a net profit of 56m euros (£50m) for the first three months of 2009, up from 33m euros for the same period last year. Quarterly sales at the company, which is the world's largest manufacturer of wind turbines, rose 59% to 1.11bn euros. It also said it was sticking to its full-year sales targets.

Speaking of the decision to close the Isle of Wight plant, Vestas said that is was as a direct result of the planning delays that have dogged many wind farm projects in Britain. Vestas said that progress in the planning system is so slow that despite the extra government money it will still be able to meet demand for turbines through imports and will no longer need its Isle of Wight blade production facility.

"If the expected lay-offs are carried out, Vestas will still have substantial excess capacity in Northern Europe compared with the current, local market prospects for the coming years," its report says.

Vestas said that a research and development facility on the island would be unaffected by the cuts, but a spokesman for the company said the plant itself was unlikely to open again in the next few years. "All of a sudden British MPs have decided to spend some money on renewable energy but I'm afraid I don't think that will be a game-changer for the Isle of Wight factory," he said.

Vestas chief executive Ditlev Engel told the Financial Times that the cuts were a direct result of the weakening pound and planning bottlenecks for onshore wind projects. "There are two sets of politicians, Whitehall politicians and local politicians," he said, arguing that attempts by ministers to fast track approval for wind farms were being undermined by opposition from local councils.

The government has been working to streamline the approval process for onshore wind projects, but under changes set out in the recent Planning Bill it can only intervene in local planning committees to grant decisions on projects that deliver more than 50MW capacity.

According to British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) figures, onshore wind farms face an average wait of 12 months to receive a planning decision from local councils, far longer than the wait imposed on other capital projects of a similar scale.

The Vestas factory is set to shut at the end of July with the loss of 525 jobs at the blade manufacturing and research plant at Newport, and a further 100 in Southampton.

Vestas is one of the largest employers of skilled labour on the island.

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Milliband, told the House of Commons that Vestas had made it clear that government grants would not have made any difference to their decision to continue manufacturing on the Island.

Isle of Wight MP Andrew Turner said, amongst other comments: "[W]hen a hugely profitable multi-national company simply decides that it wants to close down a factory regardless of the consequences on its workforce or the local economy it seems that there is little that can be done. That is one of the reasons why it is important that public money is invested in businesses that are firmly rooted in local economies."

(Sources: BBC, FT, Ventnor Blog)

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