VESTAS WORKERS AND “GREEN JOBS” CAMPAIGNERS HECTOR MILIBAND IN OXFORD
Three workers from the Vestas wind turbine factory and over twenty campaigners from “Save Vestas” are to meet Ed Miliband in Oxford’s town hall today to challenge his lack of leadership as 600 green-collar jobs cut by the Danish firm, Vestas, stand defended by a workers’ occupation on the Isle of Wight.
Terry, one of the workers who travelled to Oxford, said, “I think it’s ridiculous, when the government is committing to sustainable energy, for it to also be shutting down our only blade factory and putting 600 workers on the dole queue.”
Phil, another Vestas employee whose job is under threat, said “why is the government closing our only wind turbine factory down, when it says it will have 7000 wind turbines up by 2020?”
Climate Campers met Ed Miliband at Oxford train station, this afternoon, where he “looked distinctly worried” when questioned about Vestas. The hecklers’ sign read: “ED MILIBAND: CLIMATE VILLAIN?” with emphasis on the question-mark, to show that the Minister for Energy and Climate Change faces a choice.
This choice was not something the cornered minister seems to be facing up to, however, when he said that the decision to save Vestas lay in the hands of local authorities, and that “the factory was not for sale.” He cited the Research & Development facility being created, as though it were a replacement for the 600 jobs being scrapped in actual production.
Thirty workers have occupied the managerial suite of the Vestas Blades factory in Newport, where an encampment of hundreds of “red and green” supporters has begun to earn the name “Vestival”. The seriousness and heroism of their brave struggle, though, is acknowledged by thousands nation-wide, and abroad, as Swedish, German and French activists picket Vestas branches in solidarity.
The workers face a court hearing on Wednesday 29th and have been offered assistance with legal representation by the RMT.
Demonstrations across the country have echoed the mass protests outside the Department for Energy and Climate Change and in Newport, more of which are planned in the days and weeks to come.
Ed Miliband has made much of the fact that “wind power is part of the solution” whilst failing to take swift or decisive action to open up the market to wind, or save jobs in wind power. The workers at Vestas want to know why he sounds as though his hands are tied: “they’re his planning rules, aren’t they?”
A member of Workers Climate Action, which helped foment the coming-together of workers, unionists and environmentalists on the Isle of Wight said: “This is not an issue of political wherewithal, it is an issue of political will.
“We are not calling Ed Miliband a climate villain just yet, and acknowledge that many of his initiatives for Low Carbon Britain are to be praised: but he has a choice now, either to show real leadership, or to reduce our credibility in the fight against climate change to ridicule. Dropping Vestas is not an option. Nationalise it now.”