Workers at Vestas, the UK’s only wind turbine manufacturer, occupied their factory in Newport, Isle of Wight on Monday evening against plans to close it. Dave is one of the occupying workers. He spoke to Socialist Worker on Tuesday.
And what does a factory occupation in the UK mean here in the US? More on that in a bit. Here’s what Dave had to say:
‘We’ve occupied our factory to save our jobs – and to save the planet. Six hundred people work here. That many jobs going will have a devastating effect.
But there’s even more to it than that. We need renewable energy if we’re going to stop global warming. When the government says it wants green energy and green jobs, it’s criminal that it’s closing Vestas.
I’ve worked here for a year and a half but some people have worked here for eight or nine years. We had a meeting on Monday where we talked about what to do.
We decided we were going to go for it. People thought, “It’s now or never”. We went in as two teams, from both sides of the factory. All of the doors were locked – apart from the front door!
We’ve taken over the offices. This is the control base of Vestas on the Isle of Wight and across the south. There are 30 of us in here.
The managers are threatening not to give us any redundancy money at all. They say the payroll is in here and they can’t get to it.
But we’re not going to be intimidated. We can see everyone demonstrating outside. There are about 100 to 150 out there now, which is great. We’ve had messages of support from workers at Visteon and Prisme. Workers from the factory opposite and other factories around here have come over too.
Support messages are coming in from all over the world. We’re really grateful for them all. And if you can get to the Isle of Wight, that’d be even better.’
And some housekeeping:
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Now, about how this relates to us here in the US, check out here:
Profits come first for bosses
Vestas proudly states that, “With a 20 percent market share, and 38,000 wind turbines installed, Vestas is the world’s leading supplier of wind power solutions.”
This is not out of concern for the environment. As Vestas chief executive Ditlev Engel said after he took over, “The business had been run by people who were idealists rather than dollar-based.”
In 2008 Vestas’s global profits increased by 51 percent to £575 million.
And the first three months of this year saw a 70 percent increase in profits to £50 million.
The company accounts reveal that last year the 13 directors and executives shared £9.45 million in wages and bonuses.
So, a wildly profitable company which was run at one time by ‘idealists’ suddenly needs to shut down. Hmmm. Particularly since it was a wildly profitable company which was doing something about the climate problems we are having.
Feeling sick yet?
That capitalist parasites are, indeed, dollar driven should come as no surprise. The bottom line, IE lining their pockets, comes first and foremost. It’s what’s wrong with our current economic system. The capitalist doesn’t look at if a company is doing good (and being quite profitable), they look only at if the company is profitable enough for them. So, a good and profitable company was scheduled to go the way of other good and not profitable enough companies.
Feeling angry yet?
The occupiers of the Vestas plant deserve our support, not only for their industrial action, but for the fact that they are trying to save a company that is doing some good in the world. The bosses should be left high and dry on this one. It’s time workers in the States begin to look at their situations and decide if they should be doing the same as the Vestas workers.
The following should be read alongside this article: