Posted by: vickim57 | 13 June 2011

Patrick Rolfe, 1987-2011

It’s a sad reason to return to the Save Vestas blog after (too long) an absence but I have to report that Patrick Rolfe, one of the young people who kickstarted the Vestas campaign on the Isle of Wight in 2009, died on 10 June 2011 of cancer.

As well as environmental campaigning, Patrick fought cuts at his university (Sussex). He recently started a PhD at the University of Leeds, the topic, naturally, wind farms.

Patrick’s good friends wanted people involved in the Vestas campaign to know about his death, and to have a place to leave comments about or memories of Patrick. This blog is a fitting place, the Vestas campaign being something that he will be remembered for for a long time.

The Vestas campaign made an important contribution to the debate about the future for renewable energy, in the UK particularly, and about workers’ rights within that industry. These are still very hot topics. The Vestas company recently announced it wants to open a factory on another ‘island’, the Isle of Sheppey; again, like the Isle of Wight, a place with relatively high unemployment.

Again, Vestas is looking for government subsidies as the price for setting up operations, and a compliant workforce that is ‘just grateful to have a job’.

This weekend we saw the announcement that a government adviser wants schools to stop teaching about climate change. Patrick would have a lot to say on both these issues.

I remember Patrick Rolfe as a positive and intelligent young man, brimming with energy and enthusiasm for a just transition to a more sustainable world benefiting all. If, like me, you remember him warmly, I hope you will leave a comment in tribute.


Posted by: VM | 30 October 2010

Worker killed on Vestas site

In a repeat of the experience of Vestas workers on the Isle of Wight, workers in their new plant in Colorado have been developing allergies because of the resin that Vestas uses in its manufacturing. The local newspaper The Coloradoan has been investigating the incidents.

Report here.

A local resident has written a letter in response:

Actions of Vestas are shameful

In the pursuit of creating jobs and attracting “green” companies to Northern Colorado, we have compromised the safety of our residents and perhaps our environment.

It appears Northern Colorado’s golden child, Vestas, is not so golden. In our haste, we have allowed a company to bully its way into our community at the expense and well-being of some of our citizens.

Perhaps we should have done our homework and researched Vestas’ environmental and safety record before allowing them to break ground in Northern Colorado.

Are 500 jobs really worth the health and well-being of the 10 or more people who have been fired? And what impact has this had on their families? Are they transferring these harmful chemicals to other family members? Who is being exposed to the epoxy-resin and what are the long-term effects?

We now have former Vestas employees struggling to find work because their newly developed allergies have left them unmarketable, without income and, in essence, disabled. Was it worth it? Vestas needs to be held accountable for crippling its employees and answer these questions or they can get out of my backyard.

Lydia Wiatrowski, Fort Collins

It was a year ago today that Vestas got the remaining blades out of their factory at Newport, Isle of Wight. At the time and in my thinking now this is “Blades Day“. A number of ex-Vestas workers and their supporters gathered on the path beside the Medina and watched as a few blades left, an event only made possible by the presence of large numbers of police.

The weather was beautiful; the calm beside the river was only enhanced by the hum of the giant cranes doing their dirty work. The peace was only interrupted by the sound of police motor launches buzzing up and down the river taking pictures of protestors on the shore. It struck me as I watched them then that the people on those launches holding the cameras had probably never been to the Isle of Wight and would probably never come back. They didn’t know who we were and they didn’t care. Their job was only to take pictures of “potential trouble-makers”.

It was sad watching the blades being taken out. But the protest, the fact that we didn’t want the blades to leave, was not intended as an act of sabotage. It was a protest about the terms under which renewable energy is developed. Should the switch to renewables depend simply on how profitable the business is? In other words, should it simply be left to the market to develop the energy we need? Should renewables companies be seen as unambiguously “ethical”? Or should we be able to demand of them that they treat their workers with respect, not laying them off at will, as Vestas does, as it chases government subsidies around the world?

Today the economic recession and the anxieties that most people have about cuts in public services, benefits, job losses, etc., are looming larger in their thoughts than environmental concerns. That’s a shame, but it only goes to show that while our economic system is as it is, we cannot give proper attention to vital issues like what sort of environment do we live in and are we creating.

Today the world’s biggest wind farm opens off Thanet. It’s a beautiful sight! But it’s delivered by companies in private hands that do not care about their workforces except in as far as they can exploit them for profits. An apt way to mark the first anniverary of Blades Day would be to renew our struggle for a worker-led just transition to renewables.

Vicki Morris

P.S. Wouldn’t you know it? I’ve looked at my diary again and discovered that the anniversary was yesterday. Well, they got blades out on both 22nd and 23rd September, I think. I’m not one to airbrush history, so I thought I’d ‘fess up! The issues remain the same.

Posted by: VM | 21 July 2010

Two links

thought we’d share a couple of links:

yesterday when Marge and I were trying to put together an new bulletin on Academies and Trusts and the Council cuts we watched this for something to reflect the mood:

and then, after going to the roundabout, we went to the Medina Theatre, handed out 250 leaflets, and stayed for a bit of the concert. If you like cheese, then this is a nice anniversary song

Posted by: vickim57 | 21 July 2010

“With hindsight, I would have taken more food”

Matt Treacy, BBC Radio Solent reporter during the Vestas occupation, reflects on his experience a year ago:

As a news story it gathered interest like a rolling stone. It is not often that Danish film crews visit the Isle of Wight, but as the situation escalated the occupation became global news.

A local dispute became a national debate on climate change policy, which in turn became an international debate on green issues in a global downturn.

Read Matt’s article – title “With hindsight, I would have taken more food”- here. There’s also a link to a recording made in March 2010 with an ex-Vestas worker. (Title: “Redundant South: where’s my job gone?”)

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.

The BBC website carries the storySean McDonagh, one of the workers who occupied the Vestas wind turbine factory in Newport, Isle of Wight, last summer when it was due to close, is due to begin manufacturing wind turbines – small scale ones.

“The turbines we are building will fill a niche in the market.

“You could be running your house or business premises from the power created by these blades.

“Vestas was all about going bigger and bigger but we are looking at the smaller end of the market which we think has great potential.”

Sean hopes to employ some ex-Vestas workers:

“For some companies it is a disadvantage being on the island but the skill pool that is still here is why we are here.”

Campaign Against Climate Change events this weekend:


Overnight, Saturday to Sunday 15th-16th May, outside Parliament Candlelit Procession down Whitehall – assemble 11.00pm outside St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square.

Put Climate Change back into politics – take the message to the new government that dealing with the climate crisis needs to be their top priority. Light a candle for scientific realism and rationality against the dark, populist, tide of sceptic lies and ignorance. Let them know straightaway that the cuts we need are emissions cuts, not jobs cuts – and we need to start the work of building a zero carbon Britain straightaway.

11.00 pm Assemble outside St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square. Service inside the church from 11.00 pm organised by Christian Ecology Link.

Contact, 07970 907784.

12.00 midnight. Candlelit Procession for the Climate down Whitehall.

12.30 – 5.00 am Overnight Vigil at Old Palace Yard, outside Parliament.. Speakers from UKYCC, the ‘Spartans, Plane Stupid, a Tar Sands group, the Green Party etc – more details later.

‘Art and Empowerment’ events through the night – bring lanterns, your music, your art.

5.00 am ‘Zero Carbon’ Dawn

6.00 am Climate ‘Vigil-istas’ communal Breakfast.

We have the use of two venues that will be open all night and are within walking distance of the vigil, where vigil-goers can go to get some refreshments and rest their legs: the Lambeth Methodist Mission and St Jude’s Community Centre. We also have nearby toilet facilities provided by the Salvation Army.

For map and detailed schedule see

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