Workers at England wind turbine plant stage occupation

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A windfarm in Norfolk, England making use of Vestas turbines.
Image: Jon Blathwayt.

About 30 workers at the Vestas wind turbine plant in Newport, Isle of Wight, England have occupied their factory in protest against the upcoming closure of the plant. The factory, the main site for the manufacture of turbines for wind power in the United Kingdom, is scheduled to close at the end of July, bringing with it the loss of 625 jobs; Vestas is a major employer on the Isle of Wight, which has a population of around 140,000.

The workers, most of whom are not affiliated with any union, began their occupation around 7pm.

Speaking via mobile phone from the factory, "Mark", a worker in Vestas's finishing shop who prefers not to give any last name for fear of management reprisals, called the atmosphere "really good." "It's all right, we're getting a lot of support", he said.

Calling Vestas the "world leader" in the manufacture of wind turbines, Mark stated that the goal of the occupation as "asking the government to nationalise us" as "Vestas aren't willing to keep our factory open". The plant is being closed despite rising profits at the company, which is focusing on sales in China in response to lower demand in Northern Europe. According to a report by the Guardian, the low demand in the United Kingdom is the result of the long and unpredictable planning process associated with constructing wind farms in Britain.

Mark told Wikinews that the workers at Vestas have received messages of support from members of the SWP, the TUC, and Unite. Members of the Socialist Party are also taking part in the industrial action and the party has announced its support for the occupation. According to Mark, the Vestas workers were "inspired" to occupy the factory through contacts with occupation organisers from the Visteon plant in Belfast, where workers staged a weeks-long sit-in in April of this year. Mark said that the Visteon workers told the Vestas workers that an occupation "is something we should do to stand up for ourselves."

Mark closed by thanking the public for its support, saying "we've got to keep on doing this sort of work — it's for all our futures"


This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.