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Home | Thursday 17th September 2009 | Issue 691

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As Vestas tried to remove wind turbines from the Isle of Wight following the closure of their factory in July with the loss of 600 jobs (See SchNEWS 686, 690), ex-workers and climate activists had other ideas, occupying cranes loading the blades and the barge sent to remove them from the island.

On Tuesday activists dropped banners saying “Our blades, Our power” and “Wind power to the people” from the barge and crane. The ‘Blade Runner’ barge occupiers were escorted off after an hour and banned for life from Port Authority premises. The four on the cranes were initially threatened with terrorism charges before being subjected to the trauma of the cranes being moved and lowered, defying all health and safety precedents known to trade unionists on the docks. They were then arrested for aggravated trespass and held overnight before being bailed with strict conditions, including not to associate with each other. The four will be pressing charges for reckless endangerment of life following their crane ordeal, during which they were exposed to serious risk of injury.

One of the crane occupiers Jackie Sheedy said, “After the factory occupation ended, Vestas and the government hoped we’d all just quieten down. But we’re united in this blockade. The island workers need those jobs, and we all need them if we want even a chance of combating climate change for our children.”

Ex-Vestas worker Jamie Rigby, who was at the blockade, said “We made these blades, and now Vestas want to take their profits and leave us high and dry”. Jamie was one of 11 workers sacked for occupying their factory after Vestas announced the mass lay-off in July. He was joined by supporters from the island community, climate activists and workers from the mainland at the action.

Meanwhile, other sacked Vestas workers are at the TUC conference in Liverpool, lobbying the labour movement for solidarity action and support for last Thursday’s “National Day of Action For Wind Power”. The workers received a great reception from trade unionists and heckled Ed Miliband, Secretary for Energy and Climate Change.

* See


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