Ex-Vestas workers decide Trades Councils drive

Submitted by martin on 11 October, 2009 - 12:15 Author: Martin Thomas

A meeting called by the former Vestas workers in Newport, Isle of Wight, on Friday 9 October decided to take their campaign forward by a drive to revitalise and augment the local Trades Councils and turn them towards a campaign for jobs on the island.

The first step is due to be a meeting called by the former Vestas workers on Thursday 15 October to discuss solidarity with the postal workers who may soon be taking national strike action over job cuts in their industry.

Job cuts are also threatened in the local tax office and as a result of a local schools reorganisation. The Isle of Wight local government Unison branch is currently balloting for strike action over another issue, and is bracing itself for further job threats in next year's council budget.

The meeting drew about 45 activists, some from the mainland - a sufficient base for starting a solid campaign.

The Cowes and Newport Trades Councils next meet (jointly) on 4 and 25 November, 7pm at the Unity Hall, St Thomas Square, Newport. Some people in the meeting argued that it would be best to have all three trades councils - Ryde as well as Cowes and Newport - meeting together, to create a stronger central campaign body.

In a later part of the 9 October meeting, there was also discussion about planning a "Green Jobs" event on 21 November. Green MEP Caroline Lucas, and union leaders Mark Serwotka and Bob Crow, are to be invited to speak at this event.

The 21 November event was also spoken of as a "jobs fair", something like the "recruitment fairs" which universities organise for companies to come and "head-hunt" new graduates. Whether or not it is realistic for the ex-Vestas workers to seek to organise employers in that way - I don't think it is - the good idea of having union leaders as keynote speakers does not fit well with the scheme of enticing employers. Unions exist to combat employers, not to entice them.

However the 21 November event turns out, we must hope it does not come to play the role of previous "days of action", which were held up in advance as salvation just over the hill, and tended to divert focus from the central tasks of organising the workers and supporters day-to-day on the spot.

A couple of former Vestas workers, and three or four supporters who have moved over semi-permanently from the mainland, are still keeping up a campsite 24/7 at the roundabout outside the Vestas factory which was once a base for picketing. Some of us think it a misuse of activist resources to have half-a-dozen activists permanently employed on guarding and maintaining a campsite on a remote roundabout.

That issue was not explicitly discussed at the meeting, but the tacit agreement, if we understand right, is that the campaign does not see it as its business to stop the roundabout enthusiasts continuing if they wish, but the main efforts will be directed along the lines discussed at the 9 October meeting.


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