Posted by: vickim57 | 20 July 2010

Vestas occupation anniversary marked as the Island fights cuts

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.


  1. One Year on and the experience of the Vestas Occupation.

    A year has gone by since the Vestas occupation and the effect it has had on the island is incalculable. It has opened up the consciousness about organising amongst the working class population here. Around the country it has inspired others to resist in the face of the attacks on the workers. The occupation will be indelibly imprinted in the workers’ psyche on the Isle of Wight.

    The workers have learned through direct experience. The direct experience of Vestas workers in their struggle against a monopoly is invaluable.

    Undermining the fashion to speak of how powerful global monopolies have become; struggles like Vestas even shake the unions into action who tend to lie down instead of taking a stand against the monopolies. This has not been the experience of Vestas, Lindsey or Visteon who have shown the potential power of the working class. This lesson has to reverberate throughout the workers’ and Trade Union Movement particularly at this time of the Con/Dem cuts. This is why it is essential to mark the anniversary of the Vestas Occupation now and for evermore!!!

    The struggles mentioned point to fundamental weaknesses in the monopoly camp that workers have only just begun to penetrate. Contrary to the assumption that global monopolies are all-powerful and can overwhelm workers and even entire nations, they are part of the dialectical process of change, development and motion and will reveal their objective weakness when confronted by a conscious workers’ opposition.

    The apparent strength of the monopolies signifies a real weakness of the working class movement. Weakness of the monopolies would signal a growing strength of the working class movement. This means that workers should concern themselves less with the apparent strength of the monopolies and more with overcoming the weakness of the working class movement.

    Predators prey on weakness. They prey on the most vulnerable, the young, the infirm and elderly. Monopoly predators feed on working class weakness. When the working class is organised to defend the rights of all and is ideologically strong and partisan, it is the rich and their monopolies that reveal their fundamental weakness.

    Power exists in relation to weakness. Those who speak of the power of the monopolies refer indirectly to the weakness of the British working class. The issue is not the power of the monopolies but how this apparent power feeds off the weakness of the working class movement. The power of the monopolies and the weakness of the workers’ movement form a single whole. This relationship is in constant change, development and motion. As the working class strengthens itself as a class of, for and by itself, the opposing aspect of the relationship (owners of capital) becomes weaker to a similar degree.

    The monopolies and state may appear stronger and more ferocious at this time, as they certainly have during the BA cabin crew strike. The appearance of ferocity is a telltale sign of desperation to block the working class from building its strength. Instead of backing away from this frenzy of the rich, the working class must courageously organise and prepare itself and its allies for resistance. Organised conscious resistance makes the working class movement stronger and weakens the global monopolies.
    One aspect is how the workers create wealth and added value. This struggle over claims on added-value has a great bearing on the strength or weakness of the monopolies versus the strength or weakness of the working class movement. As one aspect strengthens itself in any way, the other aspect is weakened.

    The British working class in its recent battles with the global monopolies has shown its unlimited potential. It has only just restarted its battle in earnest to affirm itself in the new conditions of the anti-social offensive both on the economic front in its trade union head to head battles with the monopolies, and on the political front in organising for democratic renewal so that working class politics can neutralize monopoly right politics and engage in a determined struggle over the direction of the economy and control of the state machine.

    This talk of the overwhelming power of the monopolies is to keep workers in thrall and not engaged in conscious participation to build a working class movement of, for and by workers themselves. Aggressors, such as the global monopolies, want their prey to imagine the overbearing strength of the predator and remain paralysed with fear doing nothing or little to organise resistance.

    By recognising the weakness of the working class movement and changing it through conscious participation, the potential strength of the working class movement emerges and takes shape as actual strength while the apparent power of the rich and their monopolies begins to weaken.
    Join the movement to build a Workers’ Opposition on the Isle of Wight!


    Forever Solidarity with our Comrades from the Vestas Struggle!!!

    Ryde and East Wight Trades Council.

  2. […] […]

  3. […] they occupied for 19 days last summer to mark the one year anniversary of their struggle. The Save Vestas Jobs! blog described the reunion as short-lived due to “the familiar faces of the old Vestas […]

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