Britain: Worker-run plant takes renewables lead

July 31, 2010
Vestas workers occupation, 2009.
Vestas workers occupation, 2009. Photo: Global

One year after workers occupied the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight in protest at the company’s decision to cease production, a new organisation, Sureblades set up by former Vestas employees has risen from the ashes. It is due to start making blades within two months just yards from the closed factory.

Sureblades has been driven by Sean McDonagh, a National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) member. He was one of the sacked Vestas workers involved in the occupation, during which he ran operations from outside the gates.

With the assistance of RMT officials, McDonagh 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 start 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 that will mean the blades are 100% recyclable, unlike conventional blades, which have to be burned 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 that 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.”

[Reprinted from Mac Uaid (archived by Internet Archive 05/12/2010.]

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