17 September day of action

Submitted by Newcastle on 20 August, 2009 - 9:09 Author: By Colin Foster

Vestas bosses and the Government continue to stall in face of the struggle by the Vestas wind turbine blade workers on the Isle of Wight against the closure of their factories.

But the ripples of support for the workers continues to spread out. In mid-August, international messages of support have arrived from Chile and Australia. New local support groups are being set up.

As labour movement meetings get back into gear after the July-August holiday period, the support can continue to grow. The next national day of solidarity, on 17 September, can be bigger than the last one on 12 August.

Workers occupied the bigger factory, in Newport, from 20 July until they were evicted on 7 August, and continue a picket outside the factory.

The Government has been forced into talking to Vestas workers and the union, RMT, which they have joined since starting the occupation (before then Vestas bosses suppressed all union organisation).

Climate change minister Joan Ruddock met workers and union officials on 6 August and offered warm words but a stonewall opposition to nationalisation and no definite commitment to do anything at all. The Government has told the RMT that it will continue talks.

Vestas bosses postponed the redundancies from 31 July to 12 August, and Vestas boss Ditlev Engel has said that the company will consider revoking its decision to sack eleven of the workers in the occupation and cancel their redundancy pay. But on 14 August Vestas paid outstanding wages and redundancy money into the bank accounts of other workers, obviously hoping to get the issue behind it.

Vestas still has to get its “clean-up teams” into the factories in Newport and East Cowes, and it still has to remove a number of unfinished blades and equipment it wants to sell or move elsewhere. The workers are maintaining a picket, and the blades and much of the equipment can only be moved by way of barges, at high tide and, at Newport, across a public cycle path. Determined picketing on the “marine gate” at Newport, and on the waterfront at Cowes, can block the Vestas bosses' plans: activists should be on the alert to join the pickets when the workers call for them.

The Government still has to try to win a general election, and deal with the glaring contradiction between its refusal to nationalise Vestas — Britain's only wind turbine blade factories — and its claimed commitment to expand renewable energy and green jobs.

We can not let job creation, and the transition to renewable energy production that we need, rest on the short-term business decisions of private companies whose guiding principle is profit.

We need to act collectively, in our collective interest, which includes taking over plants and industries where private owners cannot or will not deliver the change we need.

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