James Beecher has posted this summary of the Vestas campaign over at Indymedia.
Vestas claim they are ‘Number 1. in Modern Energy’, and indeed are responsible for developing and installing much of the world’s wind/renewable energy. However, they’ve shown their true colours (not so ‘green’ after all) this summer – through closing their St. Cross Business Park, Dodnor Lane, Newport, Isle of Wight factory, leading to the loss of 600 jobs. Unions were banned & working conditions deteriorating prior to closure, & 11 workers who occupied the factory to save it have been paid no redundancy. There will be a long-term campaign as a result. Will it effect Vestas’ share price? Watch This Space.
“With a 20 per cent market share, and more than 39,000 wind turbines installed, Vestas is the world’s leading supplier of wind power solutions.
“Vestas has been active in India for more than 10 years, and as per 30 June 2009, Vestas had installed more than 2,100 MW of wind power in India…[September 17th 2009] Vestas receive[d] order for 99 MW in India… an order for 60 units of the V82-1.65 MW wind turbine for a wind power project located in Theni in the state of Tamil Nadu, South India.”
The V82 uses 40 metre long blades. These are the length produced in the St. Cross Business Park, Dodnor Lane, Newport, Isle of Wight factory, by a workforce of 600. On July 31st 2009 Vestas intended to close this factory, despite having told the 600 employees that the premises would be safe from the recession (it made a larger profit in the first quarter of this year than it did in the last).
A number of workers occupied the factory offices, and brought the issue to the attention of the world’s media (with Danish and Japanese film-crews attending the occupation). Solidarity has poured in from around the world, and demonstrations have hit the company’s UK HQ and those of one of its prime funders in the form of SEEDA (South East England Development Agency – Govt. quango).
The occupiers won the 600 workers an extra 10 days full pay, as Vestas failed to complete the eviction proceeedings forms correctly first time round. However, on August the 10th, the final 6 occupiers were (peacefully) evicted.
This was not the end of the campaign however. Workers and supporters moved their attention to delaying the removal of Wind Turbine Blades from the factory, and from Vestas’ storage facilities in East Cowes (Venture Quays) and Southampton. This involved a rooftop occupation, and a lock on to cranes and barges, as well as a ‘Blade Blockade’ camp complete with tripod. A Turbine Blade at the Newport factory was also occupied for a short period on Saturday 19th September.
Despite the company’s attempts to starve out the occupiers, despite the arrests of those involved in actions (and pre-emptive arrests of others). Despite restrictive bail conditions, despite media criticism of the continued campaign, despite a recent virtual blackout from the national media. Despite the eviction of the Blade Blockade camp by 120 mainland police at 6.30 in the morning of Wednesday 23rd September. Despite harassment from Arturus Security, despite constant CCTV surveillance, despite the presence of ‘moles’ within the campaign. And despite the differences of opinion among workers, and among supporters due to different ideological perspectives… Despite all of this (or perhaps because of it!) the campaign continues! Some might even say it is stronger than ever.
Vestas face a long-term campaign to shame them over their treatment of their employees. They never allowed unions on Isle of Wight, they allowed health and safety advice to be ignored, they told workers “if you don’t like it, you know where the door is”.
They cannot be considered a ‘green’ company in the true senses of the word. Being ‘green’ is about more than just not burning fossil fuels. ‘Green capitalism’ is no solution to the crises we face.
We believe Vestas share price will fall. If you don’t like what they’re up to, you know where the door is…
Upshares, Downshares at: http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/q?s=VWS.CO