Photo from Support Vestas workers' lunchtime rally organized by
Oxford & District Trades Union Council in Bonn Square, Oxford City
Centre, Weds 12 August.
Whitehall vestas demo 12/8/2009
The Gptu banner prooves that it is waterproof
Phil Thornhill speaks
Ian Terry, a Vestas worker speaking
Andy Hewett speaks
and this is what he said
First of all I’d like to pay tribute to everyone who has come here today, and all those who have been participating in actions across the country, in their communities and their workplaces, to show their support for the Vestas workers, for the fight for jobs, for just transition and the urgent need to build sustainable industries based upon social and ecological need and not for private profit. I’ve been to the Isle Of Wight twice in the last few weeks and what the workers and activists have been doing down there is an inspiration to us all.
There has been a demonstration here outside the DECC in each of the last four weeks, but let’s just take a moment to stop and think what those letters D E C C represent… and it seems to me that it is the Department for DIRTY Energy and for Climate Change.
Whilst they say they are committed to securing green jobs and seriously tackling climate change, their true colours have certainly been revealed during the course of the Vestas dispute – and they are certainly not green, not red except maybe for the blood on their hands from their war for oil resources and gas pipelines – No, they are more of a dirty brown, with a very severe shade of blue.
These last few weeks have also shown the weakness of this govt, their lack of political will and capability in making the decisions necessary to tackle climate change and create green jobs – rather they have once again shown that they are unable to put the demands of people and planet before business and the capitalist drive for profit. They dangled £6m of OUR money in front of Vestas for a R+D plant, yet we have over 600 skilled workers and a facility capable of turning production over to the production of blades to use in this country already in place. £6m is nothing compared to the billions being spent on fighting resource wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. £6m is nothing compared to the cost of building WMDs as they seek to replace Trident. £6m is nothing compared to the trillions which have been thrown into the black hole created by the fat cats in the financial system – and as we know, whilst the debts have been nationalised they have privatised their profits and are still riding the gravy train of bonuses and massive salaries whilst across the country working class people are losing their jobs and their homes as a result of their crisis.
And £6m may not be much to Vestas who seem to be doing very well thank you – only yesterday it was reported that they have received a massive increase in wind turbine orders: 41x 2MW wind turbines and a 5 year service agreement for the Orites project in Cyprus, which will alone increase Cypriot dependency on renewables to 13% by 2020; and 37x 3MW turbines and a 10 year service agreement for the Waterloo Wind Farm project in Australia. We must not be held to ransom, instead of the govt fiddling whilst the planet burns the factory on the IOW should be nationalised, give control to the skilled workforce and let that be the first building block in building the renewables industry and the millions of green jobs that can be generated by transforming our economy to one based upon need and not profit.
And in case you haven’t seen the figures today, unemployment rose by 220k in the last 3 months with 2.435m now out of work, the highest level since 1995 under the Tories. 271k less people are in work, the biggest fall since records began in 1971. 4.9% of the workforce are now claiming unemployment benefit, whilst many more are prevented from doing so as the govt “clamps down”. And if the failure to tackle climate change was not a big enough betrayal of our young people and their future, their employment prospects also look bleak – 928K of the under 25s are now out of work. With apparently half of these unable to claim unemployment benefit. Army recruitment centres are springing up across the country – fighting wars and a wrecked planet must not be the only options left open to them. We must not pay for the crisis, not in jobs, not in blood and not in destruction of our planet.
There is an election around the corner, now is the chance to show them what we think. Now it is their jobs on the line. Vote for candidates who are serious about social and environmental justice, of restoring the rights workers and of trades unions, are serious about jobs and serious about stopping catastrophic climate change. And if there isn’t currently a candidate that you can vote for then make sure that one stands! Of course we may not be able to get everyone we want to elected, we may not form any majority soon enough under an electoral system designed to maintain the status quo and parties committed to pursuing business as usual at the expense of people, planet and peace. But we can have a voice, use it as a platform to put the message across and say enough is enough. This is our planet, this our future and we wont let you destroy it!
But elections arent our only pressure points. The positive of this campaign and all of the other direct actions and occupations across the country and the world is that it shows us that we don’t have to wait for the politicians in power to catch up and get with the program. We can start taking action ourselves right now. The positive action that arises when workers take a stand and say enough – this is our workplace, these are our skills and our jobs and we will take a stand and fight for them. The positive action that emerges when comrades in various organisations come together, any differences aside and work together on a common goal. The positive influence of the organisation of workers and the key role of Trades Unions – Vestas don’t like em, the govt has failed to repeal the ant-trade union laws, and we see why: because they do not want to see us taking action and organising – if we are divided we are no threat. We have heard a lot about red and green alliances over the last few weeks. As an eco-socialist I have never had a problem with the red/green synthesis – what has emerged is that we are finding our common ground and working together, w find strength in our solidarity and we become a greater force, we cannot afford to be divided on climate change as the stakes are too high. Unity is our strength. Now we must build momentum, the campaign must move on from here. We must drink deep from the well of inspiration that the Vestas workers have supplied us. Keep the struggle alive, we can and must make the difference! Viva the Vestas workers!
The first public appearance of the new Green Left banner, Whitehall, london 12/8/2009
Unjum Mirza of the RMT
PHOTOS BY ARTHUR HAYLES