Posted by: VM | 3 August 2009

our Guardian coverage from Rachel Williams [taking over again from Paul Lewis]

Vestas protesters glue themselves together outside Miliband’s offices
Activists block entrance to Department of Energy in fight to stop closure of wind turbine plant
Rachel Williams, Monday 3 August 2009 13.26 BST

Protesters fighting the closure of the Vestas wind turbine plant glued themselves together this morning to block the entrance to the London offices of the energy secretary, Ed Miliband.

The group of seven activists spent two hours stuck together in a chain outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change in Whitehall, forcing workers to use a back door.

They were eventually removed by a paramedic and arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass, the group Workers’ Climate Action, which is calling for the Vestas plant to be nationalised, said.

Miliband is currently in Brazil. “The DECC asked us why we were doing it when he wasn’t in the country,” Sophie Lewis, a spokeswoman, said. “Our response was that he should be in the country.”

The action came a day before the Vestas management goes to court on the Isle of Wight in an attempt to obtain an injunction to evict the workers who have been barricaded in offices at its Newport plant for more than two weeks, and amid further claims the company is trying to “starve out” the men.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union made a formal complaint to the police at the weekend about the actions of private security guards employed by Vestas after taking legal advice about the treatment of the workers.

The union said it believed it had reached a deal to take hot food in to the 10 remaining men, but alleged supplies were blocked again last night. A spokesman said it was considering taking out an injunction against the company and the security firm.

Officials said they were seriously concerned about the health implications of the lack of food. One of the men has already been forced to leave on medical advice after his blood sugar levels were found to be seriously low.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT, said: “It’s disgusting that Vestas are trying to starve the workers out and we are calling on the police to take urgent action against their private security company to stop this outrageous affront to basic human rights.

“We will fight with every tool available to get food in to the workers on the inside whose only crime is to fight for their livelihoods and the future of green energy.”

Vestas has denied it is not giving the men enough food.

The factory had been due to shut last Friday with the loss of hundreds of jobs but the company delayed the closure in the wake of the occupation.

Climate change activists, trade unionists and workers have joined forces to camp outside the plant, and more campaigners are expected to travel to the island in preparation for tomorrow’s court hearing.

Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary, urged the Danish owners of the factory to rethink the decision to close it.

“Business, unions and government must get around the table and make every effort to secure a future for wind turbine manufacturing in the UK,” he said.

“Ed Miliband has proved himself to be a champion of the green agenda and the drive to create new jobs.

“Now we are asking him to go the extra mile for the 600 workers and the production facility – the only one of its size in Britain – which is vital to building our low-carbon future. Everything must be done to look for positive alternatives.”


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