RMT SUPPORTS VESTAS OCCUPATION! – Crow calls for nationalisation

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RMT leader Bob Crow yesterday called for the nationalisation of the occupied Vestas wind turbine factory at Newport, Isle of Wight.

In their occupation statement issued on Tuesday, the workers called on the government to nationalise the factory.

He said that the ‘brave workers deserve the full support of the whole trade union movement’.

Portsmouth Unison branch chair Jon Williams told News Line yesterday: ‘Personally I think Vestas should be nationalised.

‘We’ve just heard by text that they seem to be putting a fence up around the factory.

‘The occupation is still going on. The police appear to be stopping food going into the factory.’

Pledging its full support to the occupation, the RMT announced that Crow ‘will be making a solidarity visit to the occupation at 6pm tomorrow evening (Thursday 23rd July)’.

The union’s statement added: ‘RMT had begun an organising drive at Vestas prior to the occupation into the unions growing offshore energy section.

‘The Vestas factory is the only unit in England manufacturing wind turbines.

‘The Danish company which owns it are trying to close the factory down with the loss of 625 jobs blaming the British government’s lack of commitment to renewable energy.

‘The company is reported to have made profits of $56 million in the first quarter of this year alone – a rise of 70% on last year.

‘The factory has been under workers occupation since Tuesday.

‘Communication lines into the factory have been cut and deliveries of food and water have been blockaded by private security guards.

‘This morning, those involved in the occupation have been threatened with summary dismissal and an activist passing food through the fence was arrested.’

Crow said yesterday: ‘Nothing underlines the attack on job and communities that has been unleashed in the UK by greedy bosses and incompetent politicians better than the occupation at Vestas.

‘Here you have over 600 skilled workers in the only wind turbine factory in England, delivering sustainable and green energy for the future, threatened with the dole because of a row between the company and the government.

‘We know from workplace reports that this company is aggressively anti-union and RMT salutes the courage of those who have taken the brave decision to occupy the factory.

‘They deserve the full support of the whole trade union movement.

‘The fact that an activist has been arrested this morning passing food to the occupation shows that the police are now involved in a drive to starve the workers out. That’s a disgrace.

‘There’s a simple solution to this dispute. The government should nationalise the factory, protect the jobs and show that they are walking the talk when it come to green and renewable energy.’

Vestas managers gave the occupiers an ultimatum at 10.30pm on Tuesday to end their action or face the sack.

A worker inside the factory, who did not want to be named, said: ‘We were given the choice to leave by 2230 BST last night and keep our redundancy package and walk out with no charges.

‘Obviously we have stayed in. We didn’t want it to come to this.

‘We want the company to explore the possibility of the government taking the site over and improving the redundancy package.’

The workers have called on energy secretary Ed Miliband to travel to the factory and speak to them.

GMB national officer Gary Smith said: ‘The GMB supports workers in struggle.

‘It’s absolutely understandable that workers are going to occupy workplaces to fight closures.

‘We support nationalisation in principle.’