PRESS RELEASE – NOW
15 September, 1.00pm, Southampton Boat Show
Blade Runner Protest launched from Power Boat
Using Southampton’s Boat Show as cover, protesters have arrived by power-boat this morning to occupy cranes and vessels at the city’s docks.
Coming from the Vestas factory blockade on the Isle Of Wight, the group aim to prevent the loading of wind-turbine blades from the Newport plant, which was closed in July with the loss of 600 jobs.
“We made these blades, and now Vestas want to take their profits and leave us high and dry,” said ex-Vestas worker Jaymie Rigby, who is stationed at the dock entrance, Jaymie was one of 11 workers sacked for occupying their factory after Vestas announced the mass lay-off in July. The occupation ended in August after 18 days, and on that occasion Jaymie leapt uninjured from a balcony rather than be escorted out by bailiffs.
Jaymie is joined today by supporters from the island community, climate activists and workers from the mainland, who have hung banners saying “Wind power to the people” and locked themselves to a crane loading blades onto the BBC Ohio in Empress Dock. Others have occupied the so-called ‘Blade Runner’ Barge which is needed to fetch the remaining blades from the St Cross factory in Newport. They have a banner which reads, “Our blades, Our power”. The barge is visible to the east from the Town Quay, which is also a Red Star Terminal for IOW passengers.
On the crane at Empress Dock, Jackie Sheedy said, “ After the factory occupation ended, Vestas and the government hoped we’d all just quieten down. But we’re united in this blockade. The island workers need those jobs, and we all need them if we want even a chance of combating climate change for our children.”
Speaking by phone from the occupied Blade Runner barge, Robin Sivapalan, a Unison member from the group Workers Climate Action, said “Workers like Jaymie were victimised and robbed of their redundancy pay for taking a stand on behalf of all of us,. If Vestas want the blockade lifted, they had better start talking about re-instatement and terms. And if the government want the protests to end they had better drop the greenwash and start taking some real action for a renewable power industry in this country”.
Meanwhile, other sacked Vestas workers are at the TUC conference in Liverpool, lobbying the labour movement for solidarity action and support on Thursdays “National Day of Action”, while workers from the Lush Cosmetics factory in Poole, Dorset, are taking part in direct action training at the Vestas Marine Gate blockade on the Newport-Cowes cycle path, Newport IOW.