Posted by: vickim57 | 22 September 2009

Massive police operation allows Vestas to remove blades – though not all

Blade crosses the cyclepath at Vestas, Newport, Isle of Wight; 22nd September 2009

Blade crosses the cyclepath at Vestas, Newport, Isle of Wight; 22nd September 2009

The police operation here today has been massive. Police boats patrolling the river, filming anyone that took their interest on the banks of the Medina. Strolling police cameramen filming and photographing the protestors. Dozens of ‘ordinary’ Hampshire Constabulary police with the policeman’s helmet and the big hat badge posted on the cyclepath to deal with the public, and lots of more shady looking characters wearing baseball caps stationed on the jetty to deal with anyone foolhardy enough to try some direct action.

All this in addition to the company’s security guards who, I’ve been told, were on £45 an hour throughout this campaign.

In truth, short of flinging ourselves into the river, clambering up the jetty, wrestling several police to the ground, we could not have stopped the blades getting out today. But they did not get them all. Only one barge came at high tide at noon; we think there are more blades and some equipment to go. The cyclepath was closed while the blades were moved and was re-opened afterwards, but the police remain and the riverside footpath has been shut down completely for two days. So we think Vestas will be back for the rest.

It seems likely that the barge will come tonight at high tide or tomorrow again around noon at high tide.

We did not watch the sorry spectacle without protest. All the workers and supporters who have not been warned off going on the footpath (they were the ones who were turfed out of their tents at 6am this morning) ran down and protested on the path. We’ll meet this afternoon to discuss what next.

A planning meeting of the council tonight that will consider Vestas’ application for a research and development facility at Stag Lane, Newport should have some workers in attendance.

Vicki

Some press coverage of today’s sorry events:
BBC news online here
VentnorBlog here

About these ads

Responses

  1. Greetings from Manchester. Sorry to hear about your problems with the plod. Did anyone film what happened? We need to expose what is happening and put it on YouTube.

  2. where are all the vestas unemployed , you should be ashamed of yourselves.people fought for your jobs and you can’t be bothered to support thoes still fighting for re instatement . policing was yet again ovet the top this has and still remains a peacefull protest. How can the council agree to shutting the footpath where is there authority what notice was given yet again probably a back hander. not vestas worker pockets being lined with money but greedy councellers

  3. This is very sad news indeed. It appears that there were no arrests, which is possibly the only saving grace.

    Dave – I was down there last week and the police informed us that the council had basically given them a carte blanche to do as they pleased in the area. They shared the priority of ending the blockade.

  4. Wow, you guys are real heroes – not. Honestly, this just shows how the whole protest has completely lost the plot. I supported your action when you were trying to draw attention to the plight of the workers and the obstacles that renewable energy development faces in this country. But stopping wind turbine blades being shipped out? Do you even want to help fight climate change? Have you even bothered to stop and think about why you’re doing this?

    It’s obvious to me that your agenda now is just to cause trouble – you don’t really care whom you’re fighting against, just as long as you get a fight. No wonder the ex-Vestas workers aren’t turning up, they’re probably embarrassed at being associated with such lunatics.

    • “I supported your action when you were trying to draw attention to the plight of the workers and the obstacles that renewable energy development faces in this country.”
      Well, the goals haven’t changed, so why has your support?

      Did you support the occupation of the factory? Why? That disrupted production of blades, didn’t it? That was deemed to be illegal as well? Why have you dropped your support now?

      “…stopping wind turbine blades being shipped out? Do you even want to help fight climate change?”
      Yes, but it’s a question of agency. Who is going to fight climate change? Big business? They are only in anything for the bottom line. Do you think Vestas care about climate change? They are about their profits.

      The government thinks we can develop the renewable energy we need by waiting for the private market in renewables to develop. Some of us think we can’t wait that long.

      And in the meantime, any private company is not neutral in another area of life – industrial relations. Vestas was not widely liked by its employees. But when the government puts all its faith in private companies, it implicitly and often explicity sides with the management and shareholders against the employees. Is that right?

      A company can paint itself as green and ethical as much as it likes: how it treats its workforce is another issue.

      Vestas workers were led to believe that their jobs were safe and then abruptly the company turned around and told them they would be made redundant. They had trained up the workers in Colorado who will get the jobs instead. So if there is some anger towards the company among those who occupied – in a just cause – and lost their redundancy pay through it, it is hardly surprising.

      The people who occupied drew national attention to the problems around the development of wind energy, what is their reward? Losing redundancy, and now a kick in the teeth from people who say they supported them at the start.

      A few blades here and there will not make any difference to climate change. However, they make a big difference in the battle the workers have with the company. If you were on the workers’ side at the start, I don’t know why you have changed sides now.

      People seem to be happy to have opinions about what is right then just shrug their shoulders when what they want to happen doesn’t happen; people who actually have the belief to go on and fight for what they want make other people uncomfortable. That seems to me to be what’s happening now.

      • Vicki,

        Thanks for your response. I’d like to respond to your points in turn.

        “Did you support the occupation of the factory? Why? That disrupted production of blades, didn’t it? That was deemed to be illegal as well? Why have you dropped your support now?”

        No, I didn’t. But I could at least understand it. They were about to lose their jobs and felt they had to do something. But no, I didn’t ever think that obstructing Vestas was constructive. On the other hand I *did* support the large demonstrations outside the gate, as it propelled the story of the closure to the headlines. This should have helped identify the real villains of the piece, i.e. NIMBY local planning authorities and and hypocrites like Andrew Turner MP (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/aug/03/vestas-mp-opposed-wind-turbines) who are holding back renewables development in this country – but sadly it all seems to have backfired.

        Vestas have always said they would be ready to reopen the factory if the renewables market picked up in this country. The only way to get ex-Vestas workers their jobs back is to help this happen – this means targetting local and national government to get support for renewables development. Exactly what is raging against Vestas supposed to achieve?

        “Who is going to fight climate change? Big business? They are only in anything for the bottom line. Do you think Vestas care about climate change?”

        Yes. Vestas is the people who work for Vestas. People don’t go and work for Vestas because they want to get rich. Maybe Ditlev Engel doesn’t care, I don’t know. But that doesn’t matter anyway. The fact is, regardless of individual motivations, Vestas is doing more to fight climate change – in terms of millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions prevented – than anyone camped outside the gates.

        “Vestas workers were led to believe that their jobs were safe and then abruptly the company turned around and told them they would be made redundant.”

        I think it was pretty clear from the announcement of the start of the consultation period that there were going to be big redundancies. And yes I feel sorry for everyone who lost their job, but the fact is that the factory closed because it’s just too hard to get a wind farm built in this country, and that’s mainly thanks to people like Andrew Turner. It doesn’t make any sense, environmentally, economically or otherwise to build wind turbines here and then ship them off to the US or China.

        But hopefully we can turn this around, and get wind farms up and generating here in the UK – the windiest country in Europe – with UK workers making them.

        “Vestas was not widely liked by its employees.”

        No sorry, not true. Just see the message from ‘Rob’ below.

        “A few blades here and there will not make any difference to climate change.”

        That’s exactly the attitude that is causing our runaway energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Even if they don’t make a difference, stopping the blades going out is a pretty symbolic gesture – it shows that you’re not helping renewable energy, you’re fighting it.

        And finally, yes I do feel sorry for the workers who lost their redundancy packages, and I hope they get them reinstated, however they knew what they were getting into when they crossed the line from demonstrating outside the gates to illegally occupying the site.

        Go ahead and make people feel uncomfortable. But make sure it’s the right people. And be aware that as you get more and more politically left-wing, this movement will just haemorrhage mainstream support in a way which already seems to have started.

        PS Just for the record, no, I don’t work for Vestas, and never have.

    • Sorry to hear you feel so strongly towards the sacked and redundant Vestas Workers Adrian! Especially as they are present at all times, albeit the last six to remain on the balcony. Further to this, there are many Islanders and others of varying walks of life who have pledged support from the begining of the occupation, and will continue doing so until political changes are made.

      The workers agenda has never deviated from that which they set out to do!! Which was and still is to get a better redundancy package, for the entire workforce of Newport, East Cowes and Southampton branches of Vestas Blades.

      Although! In fighting for what they believe to be right for everyone concerned, they have had to endure a further financial blow of being sacked and robbed of their previously promised, redundancy package.

  5. With regard to Dave Smith’s point re the absence of ex Vestas workers, as a redundant Vestas worker myself I can tell you that there is not now and never has been any support for this action amongst Vestas staff. I heard about the planned occupation and no one I spoke to was in favour of it – in the event only 12 people out of 600 actually did it. Even the largest of the demos in the early days only mustered 200 people, most of whom were union or climate activists, with some local Islanders. Only about 40 or 50 Vestas people ever attended, and most of those (like me) were only there out of curiosity. The main reason we were against it was because it was obvious from the outset it would achieve nothing, except maybe to drive Vestas out of the UK with further loss of jobs and potential jobs.

    Actually, Vestas was a pretty good company to work for – certainly the best pay on the Island. Last year we got a 3% pay rise even without a Union and when most companies gave nothing. I hope the new blade testing company is a success and maybe takes on staff in the next year or 2 – I’d certainly work for them again.

    As regards climate change, until the revolution and the workers paradise to follow, companies like Vestas are our best hope to reduce CO2 emissions.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: