The Vestas workers' struggle

Submitted by martin on 26 August, 2009 - 9:24 Author: AWL

For a full list of all stories on this website about Vestas, click here. Key articles below:

What you can do - practical solidarity

The story so far - timeline 28 April to 18 August

Why wind turbine production should be publicly owned - Government minister Joan Ruddock challenged face-to-face on her "principles"

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Vestas: one year on

Submitted by Matthew on 24 June, 2010 - 8:13

12 months ago, following a campaign by members of Workers’ Liberty and Workers’ Climate Action, workers at the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight occupied the plant against closure. The campaign became a focus for the left and the environmental movement, and showed how a working-class struggle for decent jobs could be combined with a perspective for environmentally-sustainable and socially-useful production.

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"Workers are the power and strength we need"

Submitted by AWL on 7 January, 2010 - 1:58 Author: Ian Terry

Vestas occupier and activist Ian Terry who was in Copenhagen to speak at the Klimaforum and take part in Workers’ Climate Action activity against Vestas, spoke to Dan Rawnsley.

You spoke in the Klimaforum on left alternatives to capitalism. How do you feel the meeting went?

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Climate activists challenge Vestas in Copenhagen

Submitted by martin on 6 January, 2010 - 5:33 Author: Daniel Rawnsley

Workers Climate Action activists at the Copenhagen climate summit (7-18 December) marched in to the entrance hall of the 18th-century Odd Fellow palace, where the multinational wind turbine manufacturer Vestas was holding a drinks party, with banners and a megaphone. We remained there for around half an hour, chanting slogans and handing out leaflets to partygoers.

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Now Vestas lays off wind turbine workers in USA

Submitted by martin on 15 December, 2009 - 4:01

Fresh from closing down production on the Isle of Wight, in Britain, wind-turbine multinational Vestas has announced that it will lay off workers in Colorado, USA.

It will also halt construction on new wind-turbine factories it was building in Colorado.

Read more.

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Vestas: story of a battle

Submitted by Matthew on 10 December, 2009 - 2:34

Sometimes struggles come along that help us learn, or relearn, many basic and valuable lessons about what it means to be a working-class activist engaged in the fight for socialism. The struggle that took place on the Isle of Wight in summer 2009 to prevent the closure of the Vestas wind turbine blades factory was such a struggle.

It taught us, against ruling-class myths about the non-existence of class or the passivity of working people, that workers can and will fight — even when they are unorganised and have no history of militancy.

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Vestas roundabout camp evicted

Submitted by AWL on 24 November, 2009 - 4:46 Author: Martin Thomas

A "possession order" has been granted against protesters still camping on the roundabout outside the main Vestas factory on the Isle of Wight, but they say they will continue their fight to win redundancy money for the workers who occupied the factory in July-August.

Workers occupied the wind turbine blade factory was occupied from 20 July to 7 August to stop job cuts - and succeeded in delaying them - and then blockaded the factory's "marine gate", to stop removal of wind turbine blades still stored there, until 22 September.


Submitted by AWL on Fri, 27/11/2009 - 17:48

Report from Ventnor Blog

Friday, 27th November, 2009 at 2:25 pm, Isle of Wight

As we left the Vestas Roundabout, the eviction of protesters who had set up camp four months ago was almost complete.

Following the arrival of bailiffs at just before 11am, occupiers were left to hastily pack away their belongings. Sometime after midday, bailiffs got their gloves on and started removing items and placing them at the side of the road.

Tents and belongings not already moved by the occupiers were recorded being removed by bailiffs, folded up and packed away into black bags.

A short while into the eviction process, we and the other media (photographer from the CP and Emma Filo from IW Radio) were told that we had to leave the site. The bailiffs stated they were within their rights to remove us under the high court writ, as it was designated to persons unknown and their jobs was to remove all people from the site.

We weren’t happy about having to leave and managed to convince the bailiff that he should allow the press to stay and report the eviction as the story has been in the public interest for over four months. Eventually he agreed and we were all able to continue with our reporting.

Marina Pepper, one of the main spokespeople of the campaign was arrested for obstruction and left peacefully with police, but only after making a sprint around the roundabout for her kettle (pics to follow).

Dave Arbuthnott (Arbo) had climbed onto the roof of the kitchen structure in a final attempt to protest against the eviction. He sat on the roof for some time before the police advised him that he would be arrested for obstruction if he did not come down, after bailiffs failed in convincing him to do so. He decided to retreat and set about packing away his belongings.

The eviction was good natured and went off very peacefully. Occupiers of the roundabout complied with the request and managed to pack away tents etc in the intermittent strong winds and rain.

As we left there was just the kitchen structure left to be dismantled, which we assume will be piled at the side of the road along with many of the other items.

This may be the end of a chapter for many, but the Vestas’ workers who have still not received their redundancy pay because they protested about losing their jobs, will continue fighting for what they believe is rightfully theirs.

There’ll be interviews, photos and videos to follow.

Submitted by cathy n on Wed, 09/12/2009 - 12:52

The “magic roundabout” came into being over four months ago to maintain the 24 hour soldiarity picket and as a place to house the solidarity activists who were arriving on the Island with their tents and camping gear. Very soon, with the help of a band of practically minded Climate Campers the camp was operating with a functioning kitchen, sound system, wood burner and water supply. Over the next four months, the arse-end of this grey, lifeless industrial estate became alive with the colour, music and vibrancy of working-class solidarity.

As far as possible, the roundabout exemplified ecological principles, absorbing and recycling the bounty from a conspicuously wasteful industrial estate. The nearby curtain and blind wholesalers were a source of banner making materials, high-viz vests from a neighbouring factory became “legal observer” uniforms and a local warehouse provided a regular supply of wooden pallets.

On the day the Vestas workers were evicted from the factory, they returned to the roundabout in the evening with the message “Phase 1 of the campaign is over, onward with Phase 2”. Over the next few days and nights, the occupiers joined their comrades on the roundabout and planned the next steps. The second phase came to an end when over 120 police officers were drafted in from the mainland making 13 arrests in the name of Vestas profit-margins.

At this stage Workers’ Liberty supporters argued that the camp should be wound up and all energy should go into building the island labour movement through the traditional channels of the trades councils. However, some solidarity activists wished to maintain the roundabout and build it as a centre for organising.

They embarked on a massive tidying operation clearing up after the 100s of activists who had passed through that summer. They erected a marquee and built a 12 seater dining area, solar shower, solar power source and radical library. They ran meetings, film nights and helped to maintain interest in the Vestas campaign in the local press. Locals visited the roundabout and got news of the ongoing campaign. Their presence looks like it had an effect in postponing job losses at the Guritt factory, which used to supply Vestas with resin. They were also an annoyance for Vestas and the local council who had to maintain 24 hour security at great cost.

On hearing of the eviction an ex-Vestas worker commented: “I wish to thank the many people who have come to our island and fought for our jobs. I was wary of these people at first but after taking the time to get to know them found them to be decent caring people. I applaud the campaigners, salute the occupiers and thank the organisations who stepped in and helped when many ‘Islanders’ chose to ignore what was happening.”

In the words of one magic roundabout activist “We have a lot to celebrate, even if the owners have got a court order to have the camp removed. The camp has been a mainstay of the campaign by Vestas workers for their jobs, and a place where valuable lessons in campaigning, politics and camaraderie have been gained. Not everyone gets it, of course, but if you spent time there this summer and autumn you will know what we mean!”

This may be the end of a chapter for many, but the Vestas’ workers who have still not received their redundancy pay because they protested about losing their jobs, will continue fighting for what they believe is rightfully theirs. They continue to need our solidarity.

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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.


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