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(Updated Aug. 6) Vestas workers: `Fight for green jobs not over ... Change should be made for the people, not for money'

[For more background information, go to http://links.org.au/node/1168 and http://links.org.au/node/1175.]

Ventnor Blog -- August 5, 6pm, 2009 -- With Mike Godley having left yesterday, we spoke to Mark, one of the six who are still inside at the Vestas sit-in. We discussed how they had to reorganise themselves now four people have left.

He said that that morale was still good and how they’ll “still be fighting Vestas”. Mark explained that “It was strange to have that many people leaving at once.”

It’s unclear if Vestas have applied for bailiff papers to have them removed from the building. Vestas have issued a statement that they are very patient and that they can wait. Mark said, “They did ask us yesterday that if we wanted to leave the door open they would come in and get us. We replied ‘No’.”

Those inside had thought that the bailiffs might have gone in last night, but nothing happened in the end.

Mark said that “When they do come to get us, we will leave peacefully.”

Listen for yourself here:

or at http://ventnorblog.com/vestas-sit-in-day-16-phone-call-to-the-inside-podcast/

* * *

The British Guardian reports late on August 6:

Six workers who have been staging a sit-in at Britain's only major wind turbine factory for more than two weeks called today for a national day of action to support their attempt to save it from closure with the loss of more than 600 jobs. The men, who say they are determined to remain inside the Vestas Wind Systems plant on the Isle of Wight until bailiffs come to remove them, want people around the country to show support on Wednesday August 12 by downing tools for an hour, holding a rally or hanging up a banner.

Meanwhile many of the workers who left the occupation yesterday of their own accord returned to the site, on an industrial estate outside Newport, to support their colleagues from the outside. Asked what the experience inside had been like, Chris Ash replied: "The Big Brother house." He explained: "You've got to ration all the tobacco, all the food, you've got to wash stuff in the sinks. It's really tough. Being away from your loved ones, not being able to do normal stuff.

"When you came out on the balcony and could see your friends and family outside, that was hard. You'd think, 'Can I do this?'"

Since leaving, Ash said he had had a shower, a shave, seen his cats and treated himself to some fish and chips. After that it was straight back to the plant, where he spent yesterday evening and has been since early this morning.

"I plan to stay here for the forseeable future," he said. "The lads inside are doing a tremendous job. I couldn't physically do it any more."

Like Big Brother housemates, the occupiers have gone to some lengths to keep themselves amused. Michael Godley revealed that he and another worker who has come out had written a musical about the occupation using alternative words to well-known songs including Michael Jackson's ``Beat It'' and Gloria Gaynor's ``I Will Survive''. The men have acted it out and filmed it, ready to screen when they have all left the building.

Godley called on people around the country and on the Isle of Wight to show their support to the men left inside. It is thought the company will not act quickly to remove them. "We need more islanders to get involved, especially the other workers", Godley said. "There's 600 of them who have already got two weeks' extra pay and more redundancy money because of what we've done. We need them to get on board."

On August 4, Vestas won a repossession order allowing it to remove the men. Four then left of their own accord, while the others vowed to stay on. Another five activists are occupying the roof of another site owned by the Danish company, in East Cowes. They have set up a climate camp on the steep sloping surface complete with tents, a kitchen and a toilet. 

* * *

By Daniel Coysh

August 4, 2009 -- Morning Star -- Six defiant Vestas workers have vowed to continue their battle for green jobs and energy after bosses at the threatened wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight won a possession order. As workers prepared for the arrival of bailiffs, they urged the British people to stage a day of action this weekend and pledged to continue their campaign even if they were forcibly evicted.

"We are just waiting now to see what happens", said one of the activists from a factory balcony. "But we will not stop our protest, we will merely move down the road until we get results." Not far from the factory on a mini-roundabout, green campaigners have established a climate camp, with colourful banners hung from nearby walls -- including one condemning "Mandelson's green failure".

The group of 11 workers have barricaded themselves into the Newport factory since July 20. So far, the occupation has prevented its closure -- which was meant to take place on July 31 -- but Vestas bosses successfully applied for a possession order at Newport County Court yesterday (August 3) morning.

Judge Graham White said he was satisfied that legal papers had been served on the occupying workers, as scores of RMT union members and green activists gathered outside in solidarity with the workers and jeered him for siding with the employers. Many of them then marched to the Newport factory in a show of solidarity with the workers. Protesters gathered outside the plant and chanted: "We will fight back."

One of the occupying workers addressed them from a balcony, praising their solidarity and calling for a national day of action on August 8 and again on August 12.

"We are asking people to down tools or hold a rally to support us. We want the protest to continue but we also want it to remain peaceful", he said. "We believe this place has a future and we shall not give up on that."

RMT general secretary Bob Crow was in court for the hearing and pledged his union's ongoing support for the workers. He also slammed the Labour government's hypocrisy.

"Although the company has won a technical legal victory, the workers have won a moral and industrial victory through their sheer determination to save 625 jobs in green manufacturing", he said. "It is an absolute disgrace that, while the government preaches about greening the environment and creating jobs, not a single representative from Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband downwards have had the common courtesy to meet with workers involved in this important fight.''

"Regardless of the court action today, the workers will continue to receive the full support of the RMT," Mr Crow insisted.

Earlier in the day, worker and climate camp activists occupied the roof of a nearby Vestas factory in Cowes and unveiled banners attacking ministers and bosses in a fresh show of solidarity with the Newport protesters. They also hung a banner above the island's ferry port saying: "Vestas Workers -- Solidarity in Occupation. Save Green Jobs."

Cowes worker Sean McDonagh told reporters that there was little chance of finding another skilled job on the island if the wind turbine business shut down. He revealed that there were just 145 job vacancies on the Isle of Wight at the moment, with 60 people chasing each and every last one. McDonagh went on to accuse ministers of "lying" about creating green jobs, slating the Brown government as "a complete sham".

The Newport occupiers said that they were now waiting for bailiffs to arrive but there was no information about when any move might be made to end the sit-in. Later in the day, following a discussion among the occupiers, several workers left the plant to join the protesters outside. Discussion continues inside and outside as to the tactics to adopt following the eviction order.

Message from the Vestas workers

August 4, 2009 -- Ventnor Blog -- Once everyone had returned from the court hearing in Newport, the lads on the balcony gave their speech to the crowd of supporters and media outside the Vestas factory. Sebastian Sikora (or ‘Seb the Celeb’ as he has become more fondly known) made an address over the PA system.

Speaking on behalf of all the workers on the balcony, he called for a national day of action this coming Saturday (and Wednesday next week). He suggested that you down tools of an hour or do something for your community to show your support.

He went on to say that the workers inside wanted to make the point that the security and police had been good to them and that they were just ordinary good people making a living and had families to feed - they were not the enemy.

He went onto say that the managers felt that Vestas factory had no future, but the workers begged to differ. “Changes should be made for the people, not for the money.”

Apologies for the wind disturbance.

Message from the balcony (part one) from Ventnor Blog on Vimeo.

Message from the balcony (part two) from Ventnor Blog on Vimeo.

Appeal to supporters to respect workers' wishes

August 4, 2009 -- Ventnor Blog -- Some people in the crowd were suggesting that others should occupy the Vestas building. The Vestas workers wanted this protest to continue in the peaceful way it started and has continued. RMT official Richard stepped forward and asked that the wishes of the workers inside be respected.

 

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