Friday, July 24, 2009

Workers' Fightback: Update 12

On Monday evening, twenty-five workers at the UK's only wind turbine factory began an occupation, taking direct action against their imminent redundancy.

As reported in Update 11, the government intends to let Vestas on the Isle of Wight close, despite the fact that Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Milliband wants to invest £100 billion in renewable energy over the next decade. However, he also wants to take advantage of cheaper labour in China, Germany and Denmark. The case underlines the fundamental link between working class struggle and the struggle for environmental stability.

Since occupying, the workers have been under a state of siege from police and security. Riot cops moved into part of the factory on Tuesday, and arrests were made on Wednesday as climate activists tried to get food supplies to the occupiers. Though he was released without charge, the custody sheet of one activist described him as being "armed with food". However, by Thursday managers had backed down to the extent that they were supplying food.

The 'Save Vestas' blog has regular updates from the frontline, and the main 'Save Vestas, Save Jobs, Save The Planet' Facebook group is here.

Perhaps lessons can be learned from the fight in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, where desperate car workers have now been under police siege for over a month. As described in Update 8, workers began an occupation of the Ssangyong factory in May, when 2,600 out of 7,100 staff were sacked as a result of the car industry collapse. The struggle has been betrayed by the Korean Metal Workers Union and the Korean Council of Trade Unions, both of whom have made supportive noises, but failed to bring their members out in solidarity. Occupiers are now in engaged in hand-to-hand combat with riot cops, and have vowed to "...fight to the death, to live as real human beings."

Daily updates and astonishing photos are being uploaded here.
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