Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Vestas Protest Goes On As Vestas Secure Possesion Order

Seven workers at the Vestas plant in Newport, Isle of Wight, remain inside the building this evening despite Vestas obtaining a possession order in court earlier this morning. Four of their colleagues left the plant during the afternoon, deciding to bring their protest to an end so that they could be reunited with friends and families.

In a statement read out on their behalf, they thanked everyone for their support and promised to speak directly to the media once all the protestors had left the plant and were reunited.

It had been unclear earlier in the day how events would unfold as the court's decision was relayed to the 300 union activists, climate change campaigners and Vestas employees waiting outside.

Protesters marched quickly back from the court to the plant as rumours circulated that the bailiffs had gone in as soon as the court had granted Vestas the possession order.

The rush back proved unnecessary as the now familiar faces of the "balcony boys" were spotted in their usual place. As the gathered red-green alliance digested the news that the occupiers could now be removed, there was some frustration and disagreement about what to do next. Union reps said that it was a workplace dispute and therefore up to those inside the plant to decide what happened next. Climate campaigners were keen to highlight the other key message of the campaign - that this is about Green Jobs and the UK's wind energy manufacturing capabilities.

Some confusion remained this evening about who was left inside the building. One unnamed workers opted to leave by a back exit but Chris Ash, Mike Godley and Seb Sikora emerged, after being searched by police, to an emotional reunion with families, friends and supporters.

As I crossed back to Portsmouth, the irony of this being Cowes Week was not lost on me - a week where everyone relies on the power of a free natural resource - the wind - to propell their boats. And a week that could also seal the closure of the UK's only wind turbine manufacturing facility. Other Vestas facilities are this evening being occupied so the story looks set to continue.

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