NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION FOR VESTAS – DATE OF THE DAY OF ACTION HAS CHANGED

DATE OF THE DAY OF ACTION HAS CHANGED TO THURSDAY 17 SEPTEMBER

The Vestas wind turbine workers in the RMT union have called a national Day of Action. This short document from the Campaign against Climate Trade Union group will explain what has happened, what you can do, and why you should act.

This is a fight for jobs, for the island community, and for the planet. We want that will make the government act.

WHAT HAS HAPPENED

Vestas is the largest wind turbine manufacturing company in the world. In May they announced redundancies for 625 workers in their two factories on the Isle of Wight and one in Southampton. Vestas was the only wind turbine blade manufacturer in the UK. In July 20 workers occupied a factory on the Isle of Wight to save their jobs, with the support of the great majority of their fellow workers. They managed to hold the occupation for 18 days, and are now determined to fight on. Hundreds of Vestas workers have joined the RMT union, which is prepared to back them all the way.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Some things are an obvious part of a day of action, but we want you to do the obvious and then some. This is a fight for jobs and the planet. We want action that will force the government to step in.

Here are some suggestions of what you can do. In many workplaces less will be possible. That’s fine. And many groups of workers will also have other new ideas.

Leafleting, lunchtime rallies and after work rallies are a first step. We can cover towns in posters and banners.

We also suggest direct action – banner drops, swift sit-ins, roof occupations, chaining people to the railings and the like. We hope that will be happening all over the country on September 17.

We also want action by groups of workers. This will have an enormous public impact. But it will not be an easy thing to do. So we have to look for actions that go beyond the bounds of routine, but that groups of workers can imagine themselves doing. Here are some suggestions:

In secondary schools, teachers in their local union groups can approach the head and organise a day when all lessons are about climate change, green jobs and Vestas. Teachers can approach this from the point of view of their subject. The Campaign against Climate Change will produce a teacher’s pack.

We can do the same in further education colleges.

In hospitals, staff could come out to the front of the building in their uniforms with placards calling on people to support the Vestas workers, green jobs and the planet. This would make a big impact.

In the fire service, local union groups of the FBU could hang big banners out the front of the station, doing for planet safety what they already do for fire safety.

Civil servants in some offices have suggested that everyone turn off the computers and the phones at the same time for fifteen minutes. If management complain, they will say they are all taking their break at the same time. Maybe other workplaces could do this for fifteen minutes, or longer.

Other forms of action will make sense in other workplaces and industries. The key is something people think is real, but is not too scary.

If it is possible anywhere, in any workplace in the country, no matter how small, we want short strikes or short occupations by groups of workers.

We also suggest direct action – banner drops, swift sit-ins, roof occupations, chaining people to the railings and the like. We hope that will be happening all over the country on September 17.

News of these sort of actions will encourage other people to act, and make rallies and marches bigger. The Vestas workers may win by September. But if they do not, a strong day of action will worry the government, and when the universities start again, we want another day of action and student occupations all over the country.

HOW TO BUILD THE DAY OF ACTION

None of these actions will just happen. People will have to start organising now. This means meetings for the town in the next few weeks. If you hold a public meeting, do it before 9 September, not on the day. But it also means small planning meetings of teachers, hospital workers and so on in each town. We also need small meetings of activists in each workplace to start planning, maybe only a few people down the pub at first. Then we need union meetings in sections, or special meetings for staff only where there is no management.

A simple but important way to start is GREEN RIBBONS. On the Isle of Wight, the Vestas workers have been making and selling small green ribbons like the ribbons people wear for National Aids Day or breast cancer. All you need is some green ribbon, some glue and some small safety pins. If a whole office or factory are wearing the ribbons, it shows people all care.

Vestas is a Danish company. The Vestas workers are hoping to go to London to the Danish Embassy, to see the Danish ambassador. Their union will also be taking Vestas workers to the TUC conference in Liverpool during the week of the day of action.

WHAT IS AT STAKE

A national Day of Action is not a small thing. No one asks other workers to do it lightly.

The Vestas workers want all their jobs back making wind turbine blades. The government can make this happen. If Vestas was a bank they would already have done it.

It’s about their jobs, but it’s about all our jobs. We are facing mass unemployment. If the Vestas workers win, every threatened workforce in the country will feel more confident in fighting for their jobs.

It’s about the island community. Unemployment is already high on the Isle of Wight. The loss of these jobs will devastate the community.

Above all, it’s about the planet. The scientists have told us that unless humanity acts, we will face a catastrophe. Everyone knows that the switch to wind power is essential to stop climate change. And Britain has the largest wind reserves in Europe.

The government knows this. They make promises to create hundreds of thousands of green jobs. But they won’t save 625 green jobs. They say the wind power industry is going to expand massively in Britain and across the world. We have to hold them to their word.

The government says they want a million green jobs in Britain. We have to hold them to that, and make sure we get the jobs now.

If the Vestas workers win, every one in this country facing unemployment will be braver. If they win, everyone fighting for green jobs will be braver. Please act, for them, for ourselves, and for the planet.

IF YOU WANT TO HELP the Campaign against Climate Change to build the Day of Action, please email findjonathan [at] hotmail.com.

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