Vestas Workers Occupy Factory

This post was written by Dan on July 20, 2009
Posted Under: Environment,GreenFeed,Trade Unions

vestas-turbineAt 7:45 this evening workers at Vestas – a plant that produces blades for wind turbines – occupied their factory on the Isle of Wight

For some time now workers and climate activists have campaign against plans which to shut Britain’s only factory manufacturing turbine blades and to throw 500 workers on the dole. That a plant producing such vital renewable energy materials could close shows the absurdities of the system in the starkest possible relief.

The Save Vestas blog announced this evening that:

“This measure has been taken due to the consistent failure of Vestas Blades and the government to face up to their responsibilities in the necessary challenge of fighting climate change and maintaining jobs.

Due to management attempting to intimidate the workers who have been organising themselves in preparation for a fight, plans to move on the factory were accellerated and a team of workers have taken the plant at 7:45 this evening as a result.

Now more than ever Vestas workers need our support. The island does not have a history of workers taking control – this could be the first of many victories where workers take control of their industries and demand that the bosses put people before profit, the environment before opportunism.

You can send messages of support to savevestas@gmail.com. There’s more info at www.savevestas.wordpress.com.  Previous occupations have shown solidarity is the key, and that where workers fight they can win. Every message of support, collection or other act of solidarity counts. Donations can be sent to: Ryde and East Wight Trades Union Council, 22 Church Lane, Ryde, Isle of Wight, PO33 2NB

Update: Some more details:

Rush messages of support to 07980 703115 and 07970 739921 and 07733 388888.

Demonstrate Save Vestas, Save the Planet, support the occupation. Friday 24 July, 5.30pm, St Thomas Square, Newport Isle of Wight.

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Reader Comments

Rose

Whilst I have no problem with people demanding better for themselves, it’s a shame this has to happen by invoking the moral prop of needing to fighting climate change. Worse are those aspects of the Green Movement who have scarce cared about jobs, and certainly wouldn’t care about, say, if employees of a nuclear power station or bankers got laid off – they are being highly disengenuous.

Besides, if all we have is ‘green jobs’ creating ‘green products’, how on earth are we going to produce the things that will really make life better for everybody – like better housing, transport systems and standards of living?

It’s about time more people started saying that fighting climate change is not a priority; securing better living standards and lifting people out of poverty is. On top of which, who wants to live in a world run by inefficient turbines where you feel guilty about getting on a plane or eating a mars bar and buying a decent pair of trainers? – there are far more important things to challenge in society, and these guys are only bothered about feeling good about themselves.

#1 
Written By Rose on July 22nd, 2009 @ 1:06 am

Rose, there are many, many issues I could take up with your spurious argument, but I’ll stick to just the one for now. You say that securing better living standards and lifting people out of poverty should be our top priority. Fine. But do you only define ‘people’ as those who live in developed Western nations? Do those living in the Third World not count as people? Climate change might mean hotter summers for us, but to poor people in Bangladesh it means the destruction of their homes and the loss of thousands of lives due to floods caused by rising sea levels. To poor people living in Bolivia it means a shortage of water because of disappearing glaciers. To poor people living in Africa it means mass crop failures and starvation. And with numbers of environmental refugees expected to reach 50 million by next year, it means immiseration on the scale of war and genocide. Perhaps you only care about how many Mars bars people in the West can afford, but I suspect that’s not true. I suspect you’ve just neglected to consider the global dimensions and how intimately connected fighting poverty and tackling climate change really are.

#2 
Written By Salman Shaheen on July 22nd, 2009 @ 1:55 am
Rose

People in poor countries have low levels of development, bad infrastructure and backward technologies, making them incapable of dealing with very much at all. I, for one, would like to see people in those countries have the same opportunities and living standards that I do. It is only through western levels of development that that is ever going to happen. Why are people in the UK and US not susceptible to flooding and hurricanes? – because we have the technology to deal with it and resources to deal with any bad consequences. Why not argue for that technology being developed in countries all around the world? There is no reason to patronise people in Africa, Bangladesh, Bolivia or anywhere who just “happen” to be poor as “envrionmental refugees” (whatever that is supposed to mean), who probably aspire to being able to eat Mars bars and have western standards of living. It is only through more development that we can come up with the means to better control the environment anyway.

#3 
Written By Rose on July 22nd, 2009 @ 12:26 pm

People in the UK and US are very susceptible to flooding and hurricanes. Just look at the floods we had here not long ago, and hurricane Katrina in America. It is not patronising to refer to people who are refugees because of environmental factors as ‘environmental refugees’, it is factual. People are being increasingly displaced because of changing conditions and environmental disasters just as war and genocide have displaced people for centuries. Of course people in the developing world should have access to more advanced technologies and better standards of living. No one is suggesting they should live in the stone age. And no one is suggesting, for that matter, that we should either. However we have a respnsibility to sustainable development. And our responsibility to sustainable development aside, with an exploding population, resources are finite. The only reason people in the West, even the poorest people, can afford higher standards of living, is because resources are not distributed equally. If everyone is a ‘middle class consumer’ these days, it’s because the most striking examples of exploitative production have been exported to the Third World. Buying a ‘decent pair of trainers’ at an affordable price, means a child has been slaving away all day in appalling conditions for 20 pence. If everyone in the world is to achieve a standard of living closer to that which we enjoy now, it means we in the West will have to make sacrifices and live within our means. That doesn’t mean we should feel guilty for going on holiday every once in a while. But it does make your objection to wind turbines – which are an easy way to reduce our dependence on finite fossil fuels that are contributing most to climate change – rather bizarre.

#4 
Written By Salman Shaheen on July 22nd, 2009 @ 12:47 pm
Rose

My point is that susceptibliity to things like hurricanes and floods decreases as development increases…the best way then, to deal with such problems is to develop to the point where they cease to become problems.

I don’t see how you can say at the same time that development is important but that we have a ‘responsiblity’ to sustainable development? – What good is that sustainable development if it means ‘making sacrifices and living within our means’; you are essentially advocating that, say, our children should not be able to fly as much as we do and should expect a future where they have and do less. I simply can’t accept that.

Your point about the slaving child is nuts; so we should not bother buying trainers, so the slaving child looses job and dies? If you care so much about slaving children, then changing your consumption habits will do nothing to help them, only serve to make you feel better about yourself.

And as for fossil fuels, fine, though why not simply invest in nuclear, cloud seeding, chemicals to change the atmosphere or what not? My problem is that, we should be thinking about what we want as people, what will make our society better, freer, more open and a better place to live. The idea of deferring to ‘the planet’ all of a sudden is like going back 500 years. What about exploiting nature for all it’s worth, building cities in the sky, space travel and all the rest of it?

#5 
Written By Rose on July 23rd, 2009 @ 1:34 pm

Well there’s lots that could be said here but I’ll confine myself to two points.

First of all the point of green jobs is that do increase the quality of life. They’re about improving housing, transport, congestion, air quality, etc. The idea that properly insulating homes for free like they have in kirklees is somehow making a sacrifice just doesn’t watch.

Second, the development of clean renewable energy sources massive expands the possibilities for improving the lives of those in the developing world. Better housing etc does of course mean that people are better able to weather storms but that is no reason to accept that these storms should be allowed to get worse and worse because the time will come when we can’t weather those storms.

Environmental refugees are a new phenomenon but it’s hardly speculation. Those parts of Africa where the water has dried up has meant people have to move or die. No amount of child labour is going to dig them out of that hole.

#6 
Written By jim jay on July 24th, 2009 @ 10:54 am

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