Manchester says ‘More wind, less talk’

Renewable energy manufacturer Vestas plans to close the UK’s only wind turbine factories on the Isle of Wight, with the loss of over 600 jobs. The workers there have different ideas, and are fighting back by occupying the factory. Along with a growing number of supporters across the country, they’re pressuring the government to put the factories into public ownership (like the Royal Bank of Scotland) and continue production. Vestas say they are shutting down because of lack of demand for wind turbines from the British market and low profit margins.

How exactly, you might ask, does this square with the government’s promises to green the economy? Wind power is at the centre of the government’s ‘Renewable Energy Strategy and Low Carbon White Paper’ which sets out how each sector of the economy will help to meet the overall target of a 34 per cent cut in CO2 emissions by 2020.

The Save Vestas campaign has struck a chord with a huge variety of left and green groups and is proving to be a thorn in the side of Secretary of State for Climate Change, Ed Miliband. Here in Manchester campaigners have been carrying out a range of actions to support and show solidarity to the Vestas workers.

This began on 28 July with a meeting at the Mechanics Institute. It was called by the Campaign Against Climate Change and supported by groups such as Manchester Green Party, Respect Union and many other concerned citizens. Speakers from Vestas, Manchester Trades Council and CaCC were on the panel, and each emphasised the need to demand action from the government.

The message from the meeting was that at a time when we urgently need to be investing in renewables we cannot allow our most significant manufacturer of wind turbine parts to shut down! The speaker from Vestas also relayed the impact the closure would have on communities on the Isle of Wight.

The following Saturday, a solidarity demonstration took place at Vestas HQ in Warrington. More events will be taking place in the coming days. This coming Saturday (8 August) campaigners will be doing mass-leafleting on Market Street between one and three in the afternoon, followed by a rally in Piccadilly Gardens. On Tuesday the 11th, a worker from Vestas will be in Manchester to address a meeting at the Friends Meeting House.

Get Involved! Join the Facebook group ‘Vestas Occupation North West Solidarity Group’ for updates, and follow this link for more information.
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