A Call To The Workers of Vestas: Unite To Save Your Jobs

Ben Norman – Portsmouth Branch

Over 600 workers at the Vestas factory on the Isle of Wight are on the brink of losing their jobs after the company announced they intend to move production of wind turbine blades to America. The workers have been offered an insulting redundancy package of less then £1000 and at a public meeting this week the call for action was raised.

The meeting, called by the Isle of Wight trades council and a local campaign group called ‘Workers Climate Action’, was attended by around 150 people, made up of Vestas workers and local residents.

The ideas raised by the seven speakers on the podium, none of who it must be said were workers, varied enormously. While members of ‘Workers Climate Action’ called for immediate direct action and factory occupation while other speakers, from the trade council, simply urged workers to join their local union.

These demands are simply not enough, especially as the factory bosses do not recognise the trade unions. Members of the Socialist Party raised the need for a clear programme of demands to accompany coordinated action and urged both the meeting organisers and the workers to learn the lessons of Lindsey, Enfield, Belfast and Swansea.

The struggle at Vestas is not unique on the Isle of Wight; there has been a 15,000 increase in the number of people forced to sign on to unemployment benefit since last year. Currently the island is the lowest wage economy in the UK and a closure of a factory of this size would be nothing short of a disaster for the entire Island.

It is clear that in this hour of need the workers of the island will not find allies in the bosses or even in their elected MPs. Tory MP Andrew Turner effectively turned his back on the workers by saying: “my job is not to solve this problem!” The representative from SEEDA, the regional development agency, said that although they have a budget in excess of £169 million there was no will to use it to save Vestas jobs. One member of the Trade Council even announced that they had written to Peter Mandelson to petition him to save the plant. We say that the answer will not be found with Lord Mandelson or an unelected government QANGO; the answer can only be found in the hands of the Vestas workers themselves!

We call in the Vestas workers to take confidence from the strike action at Lindsey where, through well coordinated workers action, a stunning victory has been won and jobs have been saved. We in the Socialist Party pledge our support to and call for clear demands for the workers of Vestas, including:

 

  • The Formation of an Action Committee to take the campaign forward
  • Full Union Recognition
  • No to Job Cuts
  • Re-Investment in the factory – Keep Production Going
  • Take the factory into public ownership under workers control
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