Wednesday, 29 July 2009

A crucial battle

Bob Crow addresses the rally......

....while the occupiers listen

I have just returned from probably my quickest (and certainly wettest) trip to the Isle of Wight to show support for the workers occupying the Vestas factory in Newport to save 600 jobs. A small group of trade unionists, socialists and climate campaigners made the trip courtesy of the Unemployed Workers Centre minibus. Some of the group (not me I have to confess) have joined the climate camp which has been established outside the factory.
The rally outside was addressed by Bob Crow of the RMT (pictured above).

The workers won a small victory today when a judge threw out an attempt by the company to secure their eviction. The judge (whilst making it clear that he did not sanction the continuation of the occupation) was quite contemptuous of the failure of Vestas and their lawyers to follow the correct procedure, having failed to give proper notice and having failed to serve papers on all of the occupiers in person, as is required. He concluded that "one expects claimants to get their facts straight".

The company will now have to come back to court next Tuesday and there will be a further rally in support on that day. There is also a demo planned in Newport this Saturday lunchtime.

This is a crucial battle. It ticks all the boxes in terms of the fight for jobs and the fight for the environment, and it gives the lie to the notion that trade unionists and the green movement cannot work together on campaigns because they have competing interests.
The workers have faced attempts to starve them out, although the company has been embarrassed into providing some food - they send dismissal notices in with the pizzas! They have also been fenced in to stop supporters getting food to them. But even though the company has now sacked them and is trying to deprive them of redundancy pay, the workers are determined to fight on.
Everyone on the island knows about it - it was all the cabbie taking us back to Ryde harbour wanted to talk about - and they support the occupation, because they know how devastating closure would be for the local economy.
Get there if you can. Get your union to support the workers. Don't let them lose.

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