Sophielle blogs on the length and breadth of the Save Vestas campaign
I am damn proud to be a part of this campaign. And I want to blog a bit now to acknowledge the power and potency that has spread us across Europe and even registered echoes of solidarity for the Vestas workers on the Isle of Wight as far afield a South Africa.
Our inbox has been flooded – two thousand messages already – with expressions of support both red and green, from unions of teachers, journalists, shop stewards, the RMT and PCS, Unite, Unison, as well as a multitude of independent organisations such as a World to Win, the Low Carbon Caravan, People and Planet, the Socialist Party, Friends of the Earth, etcetera etcetera – all of this in at least four languages.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change itself has PCS members lobbying Ed Miliband to save the green-collar jobs at Vestas. The Green Party has made statement after statement in support of the resistance. Off-shore and on-shore wind power specialists have got in touch suggesting it would only take a bit of a re-jigging for Vestas to diversify and produce the blade spec.s required for the European market. MPs and councillors nationwide have rushed to get noticed by sending a good word in.
There were people whose emails announced that they were
“beaming positive energy”
to the workers; and those who were outraged that Vestas management had merely delivered a crateful of
“sarnies – they could at least have given you guys a fry-up, the mean bastards!”
A mysterious (and hitherto unnamed) group of people, we were told,
“spontaneously met up at a well-known eco-centre in mid-Wales. No-one knows what led to this convergence but they definitely don’t work there.”
But they supplied the following picture, for which all of us at Workers Climate Action thank you, whoever you are.
Moreover, a protest demonstration took place in Malmo, Sweden, at the Vestas headquarters there.
Berlin activists got up and shouted in solidarity. Warrington, in the UK, sees a picket of the company’s local base. And Tyneside Climate Action, too, picketed Vestas – all of these people are swelling the ranks of those who refuse to accept that green-collar workers are being thrown on the scrap-heap by a private company.
On the Isle of Wight itself, we’ve seen innumerable moments of heroism, the latest of which was known as the “mass pastie trespass”
which involved a Climate Camper, Ben Leamy, and several others, rushing the factory to deliver pasties to the occupying workers. The ridiculous allegation levelled at Leamy was that this action was “a breach of the peace” and had been carried out with the deliberate aim of prolonging the illegal occupation. This obvious charge was, needless to say, dropped as it had little or no legal basis.
We are all going to rush Newport tomorrow to make sure that the workers are not dependent on the management that’s let them down for their food. We hope that all of you who emailed in to say “you are doing the right thing”, “keep your peckers up”, “stay strong, you will succeed”, “occupations WORK” and so on, will make it down to the Isle of Wight to put your bodies where your mouths are… where history is being made in the converging struggles for workers’ liberty and environmental sustainability.
As the barrage of solidarity in the Inbox at firstname.lastname@example.org makes clear, workers’ occupations are taking place all over the world. The latest we heard, South Korean factory workers staging their own sit-in were sending messages of solidarity to Vestas.
Why the mass support? Why the hundreds of pounds flooding in as donations? Why the coalition of scientists, students, dock workers, politicians, greens and socialists? Well, it’s partly because the proposed closure of Vestas was the beginning of an entrancing narrative. There were seven of us in a tent, to begin with, fomenting action at the factory gates. Now the stories are first up on the news websites of our biggest newspapers, broadcast on the radio waves and provoking lame, scared statements from the politicians in charge (Ed Miliband talks like his hands are tied, and we know this just isn’t good enough right now).
But it’s also because our claim to clean, renewable energy and our claim to jobs within that sector is a claim to social justice. We all know that now. Copenhagen looms; and what have we got to show except a few pieces of paper, Britain? And Ed, there is no better way of “developing capacity” than actually building blades.
Many thanks to the lady who emailed in to support the workers and “put in an order for a wind turbine” (!) – I feel she’s got the right idea. The vast majority of the population supports wind power. With enough political will we could brush the NIMBYs aside. Planning permissions should be coming through thick and fast. Ed, the factory must stay.
And friends, now is the hour. Keep those messages coming.