Save Vestas Campaign

In 2009, the closure of the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight brought climate campaigners and trade union activists together as workers facing redundancy occupied the factory.

Vestas National Day of Action

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John McDonnell MP

September 17th 2009 saw the second Vestas National Day of Action. The highlight of the day was a lively rally at Ed Miliband's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) which demonstrated that the fight to save the Vestas wind turbine factory and for green jobs goes on. The rally was organised by the Campaign aginst Climate Change, working with Wandsworth and Battersea Trades Council, with a variety of groups attending including the RMT Union and Workers' Climate Action. A hundred or so activists ensured that this rally was bigger than that on the previous National Day of Action.

Speakers included John McDonnell MP (Labour, Hayes and Harlington),  Darren Johnson (Green Party and chair of the GLA), Jess Edwards (National Union of Teachers), Mark Flowers (Vestas worker), Tracy Edwards (Young Members Organiser for the Public and Commercial Services Union) and Lynda Taffe (Shop Stewards Network).

See the photo gallery here.

Videos of the speeches are in a YouTube playlist.

At the same place there was a lobby/photo-op earlier in the day, some photos are here.

Meanwhile other events took place around the UK, click here for a full list. 

Green Jobs and the Green Energy Revolution: is the government doing enough?

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A Public Meeting on Monday, 7th September 2009, in Conway Hall, London. Speakers included:

Bob Crow (General Secretary of the RMT - National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers)
Ann Pettifor (advisor Operation Noah, fellow New Economics Foundation )
Ian Terry (worker from the Vestas wind turbine factory)
Phil Thornhill (Campaign against Climate Change)

The panel and audience discussed the UK's future direction in the era of Climate Emergency - are we moving full steam ahead towards Green Jobs and the Green Energy Revolution at a speed that we can and should?

 

 

To the question "Is the government doing enough?" the answer from the panel and the audience was a resounding NO! Phil Thornhill outlined the latest science that makes clear the need for urgent action and put forward CCC's bold demands to the government for 1 million Green Jobs by 2010. An articulate Ann Pettifor countered arguments that the government could not afford to invest in green industry and put a strong, positive case for a huge financial stimulus package for Green Jobs.

 

 

It was great to hear from Bob Crow how the RMT are pursuing the Vestas campaign with a motion at the next TUC, and that they are continuing to call for Green Jobs and investment in public transport and all forms of green energy. Quote of the evening also goes to Bob Crow for saying he couldn’t care less where a wind turbine is built in the UK so long as they get built! Ian Terry was a great hit with the audience, sharing the background of the Vestas struggle and where next for them (see Day of Action info below).

The meeting was a fantastic opportunity to bring Trade Unionists and the Labour movement together with Greens and climate campaigners. CCC is going to continue to find common ground between these groups and where they can come together to put pressure on the government for real and urgent action when it comes to Green Jobs and the Climate Emergency.

The meeting also came as part of the build up to the next  "Save Vestas" National Day of Action on Thursday 17th September. Jonathan Neale from the CCC Trade Union group explains further and gives some advice on how to build for the day here.

 

VESTAS: Day of Action, 12th August

More photos from our demo here.
On Friday the 7th August the bailiffs went in and the occupation of the Vestas wind turbine plant on the Isle of Wight ended. In response to this a National Day of Action in support of the Vestas workers and to keep the factory open, for Green Jobs and a Green Energy Revolution,  was declared.  There were actions all around the country organised by a diverse range of groups. See here or here (right hand column, scroll down to "Upcoming Solidarity Actions and Meetings"). In London there was a rally outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), No. 3 Whitehall Place at 6.30pm (see picture).

The campaign continues with another, bigger,  Day of Action to Save Vestas on 17th September (note change of date from 9th)

Plus - you can sign the UNITE/FOE petition to Save Vestas here. You can download our Vestas flier from our Leaflets page. Please print it and distribute it!

The campaign to Save Vestas has not finished, it has just started and with it comes a campaign for a step change in the creation of Green Jobs and the Green Energy Revolution!

Isle of Wight Vestas Rally, 8th August

St. Thomas Square, Newport, Isle of Wight

Saturday 8th August

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On the march - Save Vestas Rally, Newport, 8th August

Around 300 people attended the 'Save Vestas' Rally in Newport on the Isle of Wight. The crowd cheered workers who just the day before had ended their occupation of the factory as the bailiffs were sent in. The message was clear that the 'the fight goes on'.

The rally was followed by a march back to the Vestas factory in an industial estate on the outskirts of Newport. On the way someone hatched a 'cunning plan' and instead of going to the front of the plant, the march entered the factory premises by the back gate so that protestors were able to gather round the main entrance inside the security fence and very volubly deliver their demands there.

Meanwhile the small encampment on the 'magic roundabout' outside the plant remains, plans were made for pickets etc...  the Save Vestas campaign goes on!

Sign the UNITE/FOE petition to Save Vestas here.

London Vestas Rally

 

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Thursday 6th August at 6.30pm

Outside the Dept. of Energy and Climate Change, 3 Whitehall Place.

Michael Meacher MP (see left) spoke at a rally in support of the beleaguered workers occupying the Vestas factory - and demanding the government match its words - on Green Jobs and the Green Energy Revolution - with action. Other speakers included trade unionists Billy Hayes, General Secretary of the CWU and Alex Gordon from the RMT,  Jenny Jones, GLA member from the Green party, Michael from the Isle of Wight Vestas factory and Phil Thornhill from the Campaign against Climate Change.

Photos from the event here.

Demonstrators braved the rain to hear a great line up of speakers. Luckily we just about managed to finish before the real downpour started!

Just when we need a huge expansion in renewable energy they are closing down one of the two wind turbine factories in the UK. The government has spent billions bailing out the banks, and £2.3 billion in loan guarantees to support the UK car industry – they can and should step in to save the infrastructure we are really going to need to save us from climate catastrophe.

 

Isle of Wight "VESTIVAL"!

On the weekend of 1st to 2nd August a "VESTIVAL" was held on the Isle of Wight. Supporters of  the Vestas occupation - environmental activists, trade unionists and others - gathered at the Vestas factory near Newport to demand  the factory stay open and  for more wind power and a green energy revolution! For Green jobs and for a prosperous Isle of Wight economy!

There was a march and rally of 200 or so in Newport, starting at St Thomas's Square at 1.00pm on the Saturday. On the Sunday there was 'kids and family' day at the sight of the protestor's encampment outside the factory. A multitude of tents are crammed toegther onto a traffic island outside the plant (now dubbed "the magic roundabout") - with 'climate camp' veterans mixing with RMT trade unionists and others.

Folk band Seize The Day made a song about the occupation called "Boys on the Balcony" which you can listen to in the player below, or download here.

Rally in Newport, Isle of Wight, Wednesday 29th

Rally in Newport, Isle of Wight, Wednesday 29th

The 'Vestival' was being promoted  as an alternative to the Big Green Gathering, which was cancelled this week.See Guardian Article here :
(https://www.theguardian.com/news/blog/2009/jul/29/big-green-gathering-vestival)

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At the Vestas occupation

 

2nd LONDON SAVE VESTAS RALLY

Tuesday 28th July at 6:30pm

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A second lively rally was held outside Ed Miliband's Department of Energy and Climate Change on the eve of the case to take out an injunction to evict the occupiers going to court in Newport on the Isle of Wight.  There was also a big demonstration of several hundreds outside Newport County Court itself at 10.00 am on the following Wednesday morning. See video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdC3SOttYCw

The London Rally was called jointly by the Campaign against Climate Change and the RMT (National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers). Speakers at the Rally included Jean Lambert MEP (Green Party), Oliver New from the RMT,  Phil Thornhill from the Campaign agianst Climate Change, Drew Scanlon from the Vestas workers and  Dave Timms from Friends of the Earth.

On Friday 24th July there was a public meeting in London. Speakers included Chris Baugh (PCS assistant general secretary), Seamus Milne (Guardian journalist), Jonathan Neale (Campaign against Climate Change), and Matt (Vestas worker).

Read and sign our open letter to Ed Miliband

Help the Vestas factory occupation

Save Vestas wind turbine factory!

LONDON RALLY, 22 July 2009, 6:00 pm
 
At the Department of Energy and Climate Change 3 Whitehall Place, SW1A 2HD

Simon Hughes MP addresses demo
Simon Hughes MP addresses demo

Around 200 people gathered outside DECC (Ed Miliband's Department of Energy and Climate Change) to protest against the government's failure to save the Vestas wind turbine factory on the isle of Wight. See photo gallery.

Speakers included Simon Hughes MP - Lib Dem shadow spokesperson for Energy and Climate Change - Darren Johnson Chair of the GLA (Green Party), and also representatives from Unison, PCS and other unions . In a lively 'old style' poltical rally many views were expressed but all called on the government to save Vestas and promote wind energy projects in the UK.

Just when we need a huge expansion in renewable energy they are closing down one of the two wind turbine factories in the UK. The government has spent billions bailing out the banks, and £2.3 billion in loan guarantees to support the UK car industry – they can and should step in to save the infrastructure we are really going to need to save us from climate catastrophe.

Save Vestas blog. New petition.

Media coverage

Indymedia report of the demo
Report on EDIE website
Channel 4 News with footage from factory at Newport and demo outside DECC in London

START OF THE OCCUPATION, Tuesday 21st July

The Campaign against Climate Change was on the site in Newport from the night the occupation started.

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Photo from the first full day of the occupation. More cameraphone photos here

Open letter to Ed Miliband.

We are facing a Climate Emergency and are engaged in a race against time to prevent a catastrophe of a scale unprecedented in human history. The speed with which the UK is able to decarbonise its economy is critical in this respect especially with regard to the message it sends out to the rest of the world – and that all the more so in the run up to the critical Copenhagen Talks at the end of the year.

In light of this we feel it is absolutely vital that the government acts to stop the threatened closure of the Vestas Wind Turbine Factory on the Isle of Wight and save all the jobs of the highly skilled workforce currently employed there. Flying against even just the government’s own commitment to a 34% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and its recently announced investment in 400,000 Green jobs and increased support for renewable energy, this closure sends a message to the public that the government is not serious about either its commitment to the fight against climate change or its commitment to create green jobs.

The action of the workers at the plant and the huge support they have demonstrates that there is overwhelming support for keeping the plant open and the continued production of wind turbines. The government acted to stop banks from collapsing and spent £2.3 billion in loan guarantees to support the UK car industry through the recession; we believe the fight to tackle climate change and prevent a global catastrophe are of even greater importance.

You state in the comment pages of the Guardian that it “it is up to all of us to win a political argument about wind power”. We would actively support that aim and believe the Vestas workers have already made a huge contribution to doing that. However we also believe that there is an overwhelming need for the government to play a much more active role in ensuring a greater scale of investment in wind power and a more rapid expansion of the industry. In the light of this the fate of the Vestas plant should not be left to the vagaries of the market but should be safeguarded by active government intervention.

Government support should be directed to ensuring that the plant is able to transfer to offshore blade production suitable for the current demand and work to expand both the offshore and onshore wind turbine industry. £120 million is not adequate and pales in comparison to government subsidies to other energy providers. The government should be providing support on a scale that would guarantee the level of demand required to keep the Vestas plant open.

We believe that government action to keep the plant open would not only save much needed, skilled employment during this economic recession, but demonstrate at home and abroad the government’s real commitment to tackling climate change and investing in renewable energy and Green Jobs. Your actions can make a huge difference here, let’s do the right thing.