Posted by: vickim57 | 18 September 2009

Vestas workers get Ed Miliband to talk to the Isle of Wight

VentnorBlog reports that Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, is to talk to Isle of Wight council in London. (Sorry for the earlier confusion, as we thought he might actually get in a car or on a train and travel down to the Island, but, no.)

Nevertheless, according to VB, the agenda for the London meeting is “discussions on the closure of the Vestas blade plant, as well as alternative renewable energy strategies for the Island and alternative employment opportunities”. This is quite an achievement for the Vestas workers and their campaign.

Of late, a small but vociferous group of people has been commenting negatively on the Vestas campaign, particularly seeking to stir up resentment against the ‘activists’, supposedly all ‘outsiders’, who continue to support the workers. Workers, it should be remembered, who are fighting for their own redundancy money, and always were fighting for jobs for Islanders, and for the environment.

Hopefully, the talks with Miliband are just one more indication of how much the Vestas workers and their supporters have achieved.

If anyone feels like taking on the negative comments, which do have a corrosive effect on people’s morale, there are a few stalwarts of the campaign who will thank you for joining their efforts over at VentnorBlog.



  1. Sorry comrades, you read Ventnorblog wrong. The meeting is in London in 4 weeks time between Ed Miliband and the IW’s political leadership (MP and Council), with me along as the sole Labour councillor on the Island.

  2. Ed Miliband must be confronted yet again!

    It is reported that Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, is to visit the Isle of Wight to talk to the council and Vestas workers. The agenda is at the moment set by him “discussions on the closure of the Vestas blade plant, as well as alternative renewable energy strategies for the Island and alternative employment opportunities”. The agenda should also be set by the workers such as what the government is doing to carry out the demands set by Vestas workers on how the existing plant should be started up again forthwith! The future of the island economy needs to be discussed and how it affects all Isle of Wight citizens and how more should be put into the island economy than is taken out.
    We do not want empty pie crust promises or talk about what New Labour are going to do about low carbon renewable technology elsewhere in the country at some distant point in the future. We do not want to hear that crumbs are being offered with some distant future operation of the plant. This plant was operating until recently and we do not want some maybe option at some distant future date.
    Discussions have to have some meat on the bone from the government side. If they are not really interested in meaningful discussions they can high tale out of here. The workers will continue the campaign, deepen the struggle and the government will gain zero election points from here. The exposure of all Westminster cartel parties will also continue on every front so that none of them will have credibility. It will go on until the time comes when genuine representation of Isle of Wight citizens is achieved and those that take from the local economy will not be allowed to pass and more will be put in.
    The talks, however, are an achievement for the struggle of Vestas workers. The New Labour government, similar to all Westminster cartel parties, has been forced off its backside in response to this struggle in recent times.
    The Vestas workers, who have matured politically in this struggle, have maintained their credibility and independence throughout. They have shown that they have the calibre to confront any of the status quo politicians. The anger and frustrations of the Isle of Wight people need to be unleashed on these representatives of big business when they arrive on the island. The final exposure of these hucksters must be completed by the workers so that all citizens can see them for what they are. These politicians are attempting to hoodwink the people yet again and build support for their General election campaign. The workers and citizens of the Isle of Wight will not be small changed by the government and bogus crocodile tears will not be accepted.
    Miliband told the TUC conference it was a tragedy that workers at Vestas had lost their jobs, prompting a standing ovation from delegates for a number of former Vestas workers present.
    “We spent months working with the company,” Miliband said. “They told us money wasn’t a problem. They said their problem was that they didn’t have enough orders for onshore wind turbines, because some councils wouldn’t let wind turbines go up.” He accused Tory councils of blocking planning applications for turbines.
    The rhetoric has seen little change.
    If you recall, Energy and Climate Change Minister, Ed Miliband was taken on by Vestas workers at a packed meeting in Oxford during the factory occupation. They need to take him on again.

    Workers at the Vestas wind turbine plant on the Isle of Wight travelled to challenge Mr. Miliband over the government’s refusal to provide meaningful assistance to keep their threatened factory open. There is still no meaningful assistance.
    In Oxford to recap, plate technician, David Hughes explained that, though they are the country’s only wind turbine manufacturer, they have been forced to close by Vestas. “I’m here today,” he said, “to ask Mr. Miliband and the government why they haven’t stepped in to save us?”
    He drew attention to the contradiction between the promises of “thousands of green jobs and thousands of turbines everywhere” and the reality of factory closures and redundancies.
    On the announced £6 million that is to be handed over to Vestas, he explained that it is for “a new research and development facility” and spoke about the workers not seeing any of it. To this day the Vestas workers have not received a penny from the government either for the loss of redundancy pay or investment in jobs.
    Referring to the Vestas’ argument for closure being that planning laws in this country mean that Britain does not have the market to be viable, and a different kind of blade is needed for the US market; David told the meeting that “I can assure you that we have built these kinds of blades in the past.”
    Why has there been no response to the government to this clear and objective assertion? The answer is also clear; the government is not interested in arguments that settle the question as to, why there is no reason at all why production of products to a market that could be sustained should not continue.
    Ed Miliband’s position on Vestas that it will cost them too much money to convert the plant to make blades for the US is not justified. He stated;
    “But the truth is, what they’re telling us is that government money won’t make the difference to Vestas,” he said; Vestas’ biggest problem has been that planning has been refused.”
    In this way, Miliband attempted to both divide people on the basis of so-called nimbyism and to make the people, rather than the monopolies, the problem.
    Further attempting to create disunity, this time over ideology, he rejected calls to “expropriate” the factory. Though there are people that might not like the fact that we live in a capitalist world, that is the reality, he said, and such acts would discourage companies such as Siemens and Mitsubishi to invest in Britain. This is a false, governments that have nationalised have not worried about this nor companies who have been glad to receive hived off profitable companies for a peppercorn fee in the past, in fact they have been glad of it as will the banks when they are given back to the private sector after being baled out you can be sure. Nationalisation will do more harm than good, he claimed. What is the evidence for this? There is none it is simply asserted and people are expected to accept it. The fact is that capitalism and its parties only nationalise when there is failure by the private sector, this has been recent and past experience. So the issue is arbitrarily removed from the agenda by the present decision-makers.
    Accepting the factory’s closure, he simply offered a “very sorry”; he has done all that is possible. “We want to do all we can for the workers. We want to help them with retraining.”
    The Vestas workers should be congratulated for their political stand of taking centre-stage and challenging Ed Miliband at the Oxford meeting. The eloquence of the Vestas workers, challenging a government minister is admirable. It shows that they are fully capable of becoming worker-politicians, exposing the futility of the government and proving that yes, there is an alternative.
    It is for these reasons that the workers need to prepare themselves to confront Miliband yet again with debate that will not only expose Miliband and the rest of the Westminster cartel politicians but will also prepare the ground for keeping the initiative, which inspires the working class as a whole. It prepares the ground for the rest of the campaign and struggle so that finally the decision – making rests firmly with them.

  3. Whether the meeting is taking place in London or not our view stands and New Labour representatives should be confronted. If Labour wants to play cat and mouse with islanders, so be it, let them run scared.

    Ryde and East Wight Trades Council

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