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Workers protest to save wind turbine factory


21st July, 2009

Lord Mandelson's plans for a green economy meet cold, hard reality as workers stage sit-in protest to save Vestas wind turbine factory from closure

Police have entered the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight as workers stage a sit-in protest over job cuts.

About 30 workers are occupying an office within the factory having entered the premises late on Monday evening. They are protesting against plans by the Danish owners Vestas Windsystems to lay off more than 600 workers at the end of July and move turbine production to the USA.

A spokesman for Hampshire police said they had no plans to storm the building but were working with Vestas to ensure the factory remained safe. More protestors are believed to be outside the factory.

Only last week, the government pledged to create 400,000 green jobs as it laid out plans to turn the UK into a hub for low-carbon technology. The Vestas plant is the UK's only wind turbine plant.

A spokesman for Vestas said most of wind turbine blades made at the plant were for the USA market and not for Europe.

'The Isle of Wight facility has not made a single blade for the UK. We thought about switching production to the UK but there is not much demand for on-shore turbines here at present,' said the spokesman.

He said any UK demand would be met through the company's other European sites. He could not confirm whether or not employees had been offered alternative employment at other Vestas facilities.

Unite said there was still time to save the plants. 'If the government addresses the blockages in the planning system to counter the "Not-in-my-back-yard" brigade, then there will be massively increased demand for wind turbines,' said John Rowse, Unite's national secretary for manufacturing.

'We urge the government to match its green rhetoric with action to support green jobs, saving Vestas would send out a clear message that it is serious about saving the environment as well as supporting UK manufacturing.'

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