Vestas on the Isle of Wight is the only company in the UK to manufacture blades for wind turbines. They are closing because there is said not to be a market for them in the UK in spite of Ed Milliband’s recent declaration that the Government proposes to erect many more as a contribution to green energy.
Britain is the windiest place in Europe yet has fewer turbines than elsewhere.
One problem that has to be addressed in current planning law for land-based wind farms.
Objections to them can mean costly delays which discourage manufacturers like the Danish owned Vestas staying here when there are no such problems elsewhere. The blades presently produced are for land-based turbines and are exported round the world.
The government tends to be favouring off-shore farms – because of the present legal problems – which require larger blades of a different design. The firm had said it was going to provide the IoW plant with the £50 million to re-tool.
A worker from Vestas spoke afterwards at Birmingham Council House and described how a group of them had decided to stage a sit-in at their factory. Opposition from Management and police failed when they realised that there was so much support.
Some 600 people marched from Newport to the factory nearby and media interest was such that the building of a 7 foot fence to prevent food supplies was abandoned. The planned injunction to stop the sit-in failed in court when the company did not provide the right documents and the judge strongly disapproved of false information provided to the court.
The Guardian reported that dome workers found dismissal notices under the pizzas supplied by the management. This was meant to prevent the payment of redundancy money. Legal opinion held that this had no validity in law. The feeling of the meeting was that the Government should take control and nationalise Vestas.
Vestas like many other multinationals dislikes unions and when it took over the IoW plant the work force found that their conditions worsened considerably. This action has had support particularly from the RMT and the work force is now unionised. A considerable number of other companies in the island have followed.
Vestas is a company owned abroad and has shown scant interest in the interests of its work force. I understand even Danish workers are being laid off. The EU allows such operations not only to exist but to thrive. We need green energy, we need jobs so I’m not sure what Ed Milliband was reported as saying amounted to much. What he says murmuring sweet nothings doesn’t seem to take us further.
Other reports of turbines standing idle leave us with only the prospect of a nuclear future or coal which brings us back to the debate between Arthur Scargill and George Monbiot. The reality today is that we are importing coal at great cost. The fuel is far dirtier than coal mined in Britain. Those communities where pits were closed today have massive social problems since there appear to be no alternatives. Our manufacturing industries provided jobs and were able to pay for pensions and benefits. This was 80% of the economy until Thatcher and Blair came along.
So Vestas is a significant symbol of where we are today. Powerless to do anything since we have no control on the outfit. The Government, which is by now probably penniless, would have been better ensuring our jobs and well-being with the money we pay in taxes. New Labour act like Tories and aid the well-off. The current thinking suggests that we are about to vote in the real Tories. And that will solve our problems…… 😆
…and finally ….