Vestas announced closure of its plants in Southampton and the Isle of Wight taking over 600 jobs with it – but the workers of Vestas are organising their fight back.
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Save jobs at Vestas wind turbine plant
By Ben Norman, Portsmouth Socialist Party
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 than £1,000 and at a public meeting last week a 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, none of whom were Vestas workers, varied enormously. Members of 'Workers Climate Action' called for immediate direct action and factory occupation. Speakers from the trades council simply urged workers to join their local union.
These demands are 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, Visteon and Linamar.
The job losses at Vestas are not unique on the Isle of Wight. There has been a 15,000 increase in the number of people forced to claim unemployment benefit since last year. Currently the island is the lowest wage economy in the UK. Closure of a factory of this size would be a disaster for the entire Island.
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 trades 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 quango.
We pledge our support to and call for clear demands for the workers of Vestas, including:
- No to job cuts.
- Re-invest in the factory - Keep production going.
- Full trade union recognition.
- Take the factory into public ownership under democratic workers' control and management.
- Form an action committee to take the campaign forward.
- Organise a demonstration on the Isle of Wight as soon as possible to build solidarity for the Vestas workers.