Tuesday, 27 July 2010

A new unionised factory for wind turbine blades rises from the ruins of Vestas

As someone who supported the Vestas workers, along with comrades in Green Left and other members of the Green Party, I am very pleased to see that a phoenix has arisen from the ashes. The Isle of Wight is a real unemployment blackspot, even before the cuts being introduced by the ConDem government, and the creation of green jobs here is a real piece of good news. Furthermore, it shows what can be done with trade union support and encouragement and the refusal of workers to lie down. Congrats to the Sureblades workers and to the RMT for this very worthwhile initiative.

One year after the Vestas wind turbines occupation a new, unionised factory rises from the ashes

Sureblades has been driven by Sean McDonagh, an RMT member and one of the sacked Vestas workers involved in the occupation where he ran operations from outside the gates. With the assistance of RMT officials, Sean and his colleagues set up meetings with Government officials and development agencies to put together the Sureblades business plan in tandem with Keith Hounsell who already installs turbines across the south.

Sureblades aims to begin the manufacture of micro-turbine blades in Newport on the Isle of Wight by late September and the company expects to have capacity to mould blades up to 12m long. They will be using cutting edge technology which will mean that the blades are 100% recyclable unlike conventional blades which have to be burnt or dumped in landfill.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

"The former Vestas workers behind this imaginative new project have completely destroyed the argument put forward by the company at the time of closure that there was no market for UK manufactured turbine blades. Through their efforts to create jobs they have blown apart the bogus grounds put forward at the time for closure and redundancy of the workforce.

"RMT is very proud of what our former Vestas members have achieved so far and we are right behind them. They have also shown that it is far too easy for companies in the UK to soak up Government grants and then just cut and run when it suits them without any meaningful consultation, never mind a ballot of the workforce.

"We are also very pleased that the planned new operation will be RMT organised and that officials of this trade union have helped open the doors and make the contacts which have turned this project into a reality. But the real credit lies with the determination and solidarity of the workers who refused to accept that they were beaten. They are an inspiration."

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