THE Vestas occupation clearly shocked the employer and weakened the Labour government to the point where a mass struggle has to be launched by all the trade unions to force the government to nationalise the company.
This is a vital struggle, taking place when millions of jobs are under threat in this country and they must all be defended. Occupations and nationalisation are the only way.
The Vestas occupation forced the government to meet with two Vestas workers and the RMT and Unite trade unions (what Unite was doing there is a mystery since it opposes both nationalisation and occupations) on Thursday.
At the meeting with Joan Ruddock, the Minister of State in Miliband’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, she said that the government had offered money to Vestas, and had been refused, and Vestas had also refused an offer to buy it.
She added that there was nothing more that could be done. It would be different if it was the Vestas Bank!
Vestas cannot be allowed to dictate to the British government. The trade unions must demand it be nationalised and put under workers control.
The TUC and all trade union leaders must immediately launch a campaign of industrial and political action to force the nationalisation of Vestas.
Millions of workers will support it because they know that they will be next, unless the Vestas jobs are successfully defended, and the plant nationalised.
You would think that Ruddock’s exhibition of gutlessness in front of Vestas would rouse the trade union leaders to really start fighting.
However the opposite is the case.
The RMT statement about the Ruddock meeting states that ‘During the meeting it emerged that the government had offered a series of rescue options to the company but each one had been rejected.
‘Bailiffs’ notices were served yesterday on the remaining six men in occupation and moves are expected by noon today by the company to retake possession of the buildings.
‘RMT general secretary Bob Crow said “Whatever happens today, the workers involved in the Vestas occupation can hold their heads up high and be proud of the brave fight they have put up for green jobs. They have turned a local fight over a factory closure on the Isle of Wight into a global battle for the future of manufacturing in the renewable energy sector and that is an extraordinary achievement.
‘ “There should now be an investigation into Vestas’ activities in the UK as it appears from the meeting with the minister that they kicked the legs from under a perfectly viable rescue deal which could have saved the factory. We cannot have a situation where companies like this turn the tap on and off on key manufacturing jobs. They should not be allowed to simply up sticks and shift production to other parts of the world regardless of the impact on the local economy.
‘ “RMT will continue to work to secure the best possible deal for the Vestas workforce and specifically the workers sacked during the occupation. The fight to get this unit back into production, making turbines for the UK, goes on.” ’
Right at the point were the weakness of the government is revealed the RMT dumps the demand for nationalisation and, in fact, reads the last rites for the struggle.
This on-your-knees trade unionism will achieve nothing. It is the occupation that brought the government to the table, now the trade unions must launch a campaign of strikes and mass actions to secure the nationalisation of Vestas.
This is the time to step up the fight not abandon it!
There must be a mass meeting of Vestas workers to take this struggle forward to victory! The TUC and the trade unions which have supported this struggle must now play their part in winning it.