Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Support the Vestas Occupation!

My slow blogging status has meant not passing comment on news items and struggles I would have otherwise blogged on. One of those has been the magnificent struggle of workers at the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight. Having taken a leaf out of recent industrial occupations 20 or so workers occupied their workplace when it became clear their bosses wanted to close the factory and throw over 600 employees onto the dole. And it has proved an astute move. It has very steadily been accumulating wider media coverage and has slowly but methodically been working its way up the news agenda - not least because of its potential to embarrass the government on its green credentials.

This in itself demonstrates the efficacy of workplace occupations as a tactic at the present time. Had the workers not taken the initiative, it would have been a footnote in the news as just another unfortunate victim of the recession (despite Vestas posting record profits this last financial year!). The workers were also wise enough to take a wireless connection into the offices with them, and have been regularly updating
their blog throughout. Another significant aspect of the dispute so far is how for the first time in many years the labour movement and environmental movement has come together over common interests - definitely an alliance we need to see more of.

But back to the specifics of the struggle. Right now it looks like the struggle could be heading toward its denouement. 11 of the occupying workers identified by management were sacked earlier today. And tomorrow Vestas bosses will be seeking a court order to have the protesting workers forcibly removed ... with government acquiescence.

Ed Miliband, the minister for energy and climate change in his
reply to LabourList's Alex Smith (who supports the Vestas workers) has indicated the government will do nothing to support the workers, instead hiding behind the company's arguments concerning the slow growth of the UK market and blaming Tory councils for setting their noses against wind farms.

I don't think anyone was expecting anything else. Aside from once more demonstrating the utter bankruptcy of New Labour to the world, it shows how the market cannot be trusted to develop renewable energy sources.

See the RMT's Vestas page
here amd here for solidarity actions and protests tomorrow.

Edit: Also see the Ryde TUC blog for more comment and analysis.

Wed edit: Case has been adjourned because Vestas incorrectly filed their papers! Recommences on August 4th!


Brother S said...

Great report pbc.
A Ryde TUC blog. What chance a NSTUC blog?

Phil BC said...

A capital idea Brother S. But who to write it? I think we should spend some time at the next meeting discussing it. Hopefully it won't take as long as it has to sort a banner out for a certain other trade union body known to our goodselves.

Re Vestas, the adjournment is excellent news. There's a real head of steam behind this dispute. By prolonging it there could be a chance the company and/or the government will crack.

Chris H said...

Makes me wonder why more unions don't dump the Labour party. They certainly don't seem to be too concerned with the plight of the workers in this country.

Brother S said...

Watched a recent news report. Banners from RMT, Unison, Socialist Party (Southampton?) and our very own fighting union- the UCU!

HarpyMarx said...

And Ed Miliband was utterly crap on Newsnight last night (and it's funny that he is touted as, ahem, 'progressive'....)

Oh, and the judge chucked out the possession order yesterday but it is back in court again next wk.