Former Vestas workers who occupied their factory in Newport, Isle of Wight last summer to protest against job losses, and a number of their supporters marked the anniversary of the start of the occupation today.
A report from the scene of the recoccupied Magic Roundabout:
Vestas – Magic Roundabout Re-occupied on 1st Anniversary of the Workers’ Occuaption.
At around 4pm this afternoon, one year on from the beginning of the Vestas occupation, 15 ex-Vestas workers and campaign supporters re-occupied the ‘Magic Roundabout’ next to the Vestas factory. The roundabout was the home of the support campaign for over 4 months last year in solidarity with the 600 workers who lost their jobs when the wind turbine factory closed its doors last August.
The Ryde and East Wight Trades Council, activists from Workers Climate Action and a local RMT member were all part of today’s re-occupation. They are there to remind people that the fight for jobs, justice and the climate is far from over on the Isle of Wight and beyond.
Climate Campers were there in spirit, their stickers still looking good on the site’s road signs.
Within three minutes the police had arrived having being called to the site by Vestas security. The mini reunion is not just made up of campaign supporters as within a couple of hours the familiar faces of the old Vestas security team were back on the scene looking very concerned.
One year on and the occupiers have still not been reinstated and a tribunal that was to be held last week for some of the occupiers ended prematurely when ex-workers were threatened with full and crippling costs by Vestas and forced to withdraw their case.
At 5.30pm tomorrow, Wednesday, these campaigners will join a lobby of the full council to protest against cuts. An Islander reports:
Protest at the full Council Meeting tomorrow at 5.30pm. Too tired to think through the list of cuts, closures, jobs losses and price hikes, and you’ll all know how to find out about them. There is a lot of anger among young people about the scrapping of the Student Rider.
Today was the anniversary of the Vestas occupation, and a group of us from last year – occupiers, trade unionists and local supporters – marked it by coming down to the industrial estate to see each other in a place with good memories, of a fight we’re all proud of. The fact remains that the official unemployment figures out last week, always an underestimate not taking into account the seasonal dynamic, put the number out of work at 2,200. We still demand the factory be re-opened: it was the product of millions of regeneration money over a decade. It is the obvious way to create jobs on the scale that they are urgently needed.
Yesterday a thousand teachers lobbied parliament against the scrapping of the Building Schools for the Future money. On the island this translates into the scrapping of the significant school improvements due for Carisbrooke, Medina, Sandown and Ryde.
With these latest rounds of cuts, the ones we know about and those that are rumoured, it is surely time to make a proper stand and assert the feelings that most ordinary people have about this so-called economic crisis. We did not cause it, and we will not pay for it. As one Unison member put it this morning, the bankers robbed us and the government is mugging us.