by Caroline Colebrook
THE GROWING campaign in support of the Vestas workers who are occupying their wind turbine factory in Newport on the Isle of Wight won a major court victory last Wednesday when a court threw out a bid by the company to have them evicted.
The workers, who are protesting at the planned closure of the factory – with the loss of 600 jobs – were not in a union at the beginning of the dispute but have won support from many major unions and environmentalist groups in Britain and around the world.
Protesters in Sweden are now- besieging the Vestas headquarters in Malmo and the transport union RMT, which covers offshore energy workers, has funded the workers’ legal battle.
They are calling on the Government to intervene and nationalise the factory in line with the declared policy of creating thousands of “green” jobs.
The RMT on Wednesday claimed a significant victory in the fight to save the Vestas wind turbine factory after the repossession proceedings were deferred until next Tuesday.
RMT said that the deferral of the court hearing exposes the weakness of the company’s case and gives the union and climate campaigners vital extra time to mobilise support for the fight to stop the closure.
The factory was due to close on Friday and the deferred court proceedings will now take the fight beyond that date.
RMT have also now had contact from the office of Climate Secretary Ed Milliband and are hopeful for urgent talks to broker a solution which will stop the closure of Britain’s only wind turbine factory.
On Tuesday night Vestas sacked l l workers with dismissal notices smuggled through inside pizza boxes. Today, the company have clamped down again on food deliveries into the factory in a renewed bid to starve the workers out.
Bob Crow, RMT general secretary, said: “No one should underestimate the significance of the court throwing out Vestas’ repossession application today. This is a significant victory which gives us more time to build the global campaign to save Vestas.
“It’s a disgrace that the company, in the light of their failure in the courts, are now trying once again to starve the workers out. Prisoners in Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight get three square meals a day and there’s no excuse for denying the Vestas factory workers the basic human right to food and water.
“New figures today show that there will be a massive demand for wind turbines in the UK over the coming years and we are looking for urgent talks to nail down a solution which saves the UK’s only wind turbine factory from closure”
Vestas management had claimed they were closing the factory because in Britain the demand for wind turbines was too low, But this has been exposed as bogus.
The company is a leading member of the British Wind Energy Association, whose survey published last week showed that Britain will need 2,700 new turbines by 2012.
Government reports suggest that Britain will need 10,000 wind turbines by 2020, all of which will need to be imported if Vestas is closed in Newport.
Bob Crow pointed out: “Vestas have had millions in Government subsidies and this week scooped up another £7 million in Research and Development money just days before they are due to close their only UK factory.
“They have touted themselves around like corporate prostitutes, sucking up taxpayers’ money while moving to dump their UK force on the scrap heap and that’s a scandal.
“Yesterday, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson talked about ‘our low-carbon industrial future’. Today, the Government has the chance to walk the talk, to step in and nationalise Vestas and save green jobs at the UK’s only wind turbine factory. They cannot sit idly by while a factory that UK wind energy production will need for the future is ripped apart.”
The civil service union PCS is also supporting the Vestas sit-in and is encouraging members to offer help and support.
The campaign is asking people to join them, send messages of support (see below), spread the word, or make a donation to the campaign.
The union backed a London public meeting last Friday under the title: “Save Vestas: save jobs, save the planet”.
PCS assistant general secretary Chris Baugh, speaking for the union said: “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, threatened with closure at the end of July. This shows the Government’s double standards and that their so-called ‘low carbon transition plan’ is empty rhetoric.”
There is more information on the Save Vestas campaign website www.savevestas.wordpress.com or email support messages to firstname.lastname@example.org