Workers and activists organised a picket outside the back gate of the Vestas factory on Monday the 17th of August to attempt to dissuade a clean up team the company has hired from working them out of a job and from helping to close England’s only wind turbine factory. Picketers were dismayed to see that some of their old workmates had been employed to clear out the factory, but we handed out RMT membership forms and encouraged people to join the union and stand with us. So long as there is a picket union members being told to go in to work can refuse and will receive the legal support of the RMT. Workers can probably find plenty of other reasons to refuse to go in to work, be it health and safety issues or bullying from management.
The picket was successful in terms of its aims, we slowed down cars long enough to speak to people and hand out leaflets, even when the police got quite heavy handed at one point and demanded, unsuccessfully, that we move our banner. The main aim of the picket is to delay and eventually stop the clear-out of the factory, the best way this can be done is for the clean-up team to be won over, though if this doesn’t work direct action may become necessary to prevent people and equipment moving in and out of the factory. If you are working in Vestas at the moment then don’t sell out your mates and don’t sell out the planet. 600 workers have lost their jobs and they and their families are suffering for it in the immediate term. Also, the environment will suffer for the loss of the factory-the first to bear the brunt of this suffering will be the working class. Our class has to stand together as a class to fight against the brutal profit seeking of capitalism that, by its logic of profit at any cost, closes socially useful factories, and lays waste to the world we live in.
After the picket workers and activists went to the Job Centre in Newport to rush the building and hold a picnic inside. We spoke to local PCS activists beforehand to ensure that action and slogans were formulated with both the Vestas workers and overstretched and undervalued public sector workers in mind. We raised the demand for more green jobs and carried placards reading ‘No Job is No Picnic’, ‘Green Workers Are Seeing Red’ and ‘If You Want Green Jobs Stop Sacking Green Workers’. We handed out leaflets to people coming in searching for jobs and Job Centre workers, the majority of whom were supportive of the campaign. We call on workers in Job Centres and all across the public sector to get organised and call for the provision of useful green jobs. Public sector workers and the rest of the labour movement with them also have to prepare for massive attacks after what is likely to be the election of a Tory government. Public services should be expanded, not slashed, but it will fall to the working class to fight for that expansion, just as it falls to us to fight climate change.
The Save Vestas campaign is still continuing with support solidifying in the form of daily organising meetings on the roundabout outside the Newport factory at 6:00. All contributions and ideas are welcome, activists who are able to should go to the factory to help think up, plan and co-ordinate more actions, build for rallies and continue to aid workers in their fight for green jobs.
Save Vestas! Nationalise under workers’ control!