Saturday, 8 August 2009

Saving Vestas

I've been blogging feverishly for the last couple of weeks. I'm quite exhausted by it. Not here, but over at It makes a change, getting more than 1,000 hits a day. Little of that popularity is down to me, alas. An occupation to prevent the closure of Vestas Blades on the Isle of Wight, Britain's only wind turbine blade manufactory, does quicken the pulse of more people than the runinations of a 44-year-old trades council activist in north London.

But the Isle of Wight is an unlikely place for this to have happened, isn't it? The workforce were quite young, hardly a union member among them, so how was it possible? (I say was, because the occupation has now ended, although the campaign to keep the Isle of Wight factories producing wind turbine blades - and the workers to keep their jobs - is continuing.)

If anyone tells you that it has been down to the work of outside agitators, they would have a point. A group of young socialists and climate activists went to the Isle of Wight, camped close to the factory, and spent two weeks talking to a very demoralised workforce who believed that they could do nothing to stop Vestas shutting down. In the end it was only a tiny minority of workers who were energised into taking action, but they quickly had the support of most of their former colleagues, who applauded their stand.

It is a saying in the labour movement, fight for every job. In this case, we are fighting for the jobs of 625 workers, which is only a handful, but it is a very symbolic handful. For at the same time as they have allowed the Isle of Wight plant to close, the government has been making a lot of rhetoric about expanding renewable energy, and challenging the scepticism of the public about wind power that has made the expansion of this 'market' so difficult. This has been a fight about jobs, but also about so-called green jobs, that has united environmentalists and trade unions in a way that has seldom been seen. It could be the start of something significant.

I won't go into details - you can read a lot more elsewhere, not least on the aforementioned Save Vestas blog. But I feel energised by what has happened, as well as utterly knackered.

Now, I must get back to my other blog for a while. An eager public awaits.

1 comment:

Rog T said...

Shame on you two timing us !