30 Workers Now Occupy Ill-Fated UK Wind Turbine Plant

The planned closure of a wind turbine manufacturing facility on England’s Isle of Wight moved several workers to seize control of the plant on Monday night.

[Update: July 21, 11:36pm GMT: Since workers first seized the plant on Monday night, 5 more workers slipped police lines to join the 25 workers already occupying the administrative offices at a Vestas Wind Systems plant on the Isle of Wight. Some food also made it inside, but police reportedly now have that route blocked.]

According to reports, 25 workers facing imminent termination at a shuttering wind turbine plant entered the administrative offices of the Vestas Wind Systems factory in Newport, Isle of Wight, at around 7:30 on Monday night. The workers vowed to remain there until the government discusses their proposal to save it from closure by nationalizing the plant.

The workers, who recently learned the plant could be shutting any day, called on the UK Government to take over the plant and back-up their rhetorical support for creating green collar jobs by saving these existing ones.

“It would be tiny step financially to keep this factory open,” said one worker from inside the factory. “But it would be a huge statement about the government’s commitment to the green economy. Just as they could not afford to let the banks fail, they can’t afford to let this fail. It’s about the history of humanity.”

The plant, which was once slated to begin testing of the world’s longest wind turbine blade, and another one in Southhampton, were scheduled to shut down back in April when Vestas officials said sinking demand in the U.K. was forcing the closure. Together, the two facilities employ 625 people, but without more buyers in the U.K. Vestas was finding it increasingly difficult to justify the cost of keeping the plants open.

Vestas chief executive Ditlev Engel told The Guardian that building wind turbines in Britain was “extremely time-consuming and extremely complicated”. He added: “In the UK NIMBYism is a huge challenge.”

As Vestas employees began arriving for work on Tuesday morning, police turned away all but senior management, effectively locking out any other workers. Police said they had no intention of forcibly removing the protesters.

Image courtesy of Vestas Wind Systems A/S

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