Using Southampton's Boat Show as cover, protesters have arrived by power-boat this morning to occupy cranes and vessels at the city's docks.
The occupied ship - 'Blade Runner'
“We made these blades, and now Vestas want to take their profits and leave us high and dry,” said ex-Vestas worker Jamie Rigby, who is stationed at the dock entrance, Jamie was one of 11 workers sacked for occupying their factory after Vestas announced the mass lay-off in July. The occupation ended in August after 18 days, and on that occasion Jamie leapt uninjured from a balcony rather than be escorted out by bailiffs.
Jamie is joined today by supporters from the island community, climate activists and workers from the mainland, who have hung banners saying “Wind power to the people” and locked themselves to a crane loading blades onto the BBC Ohio in Empress Dock. Others have occupied the so-called 'Blade Runner' Barge which is needed to fetch the remaining blades from the St Cross factory in Newport. They have a banner which reads, “Our blades, Our power”. The barge is visible to the east from the Town Quay, which is also a Red Star Terminal for IOW passengers.
On the crane at Empress Dock, Jackie Sheedy said, “ After the factory occupation ended, Vestas and the government hoped we'd all just quieten down. But we're united in this blockade. The island workers need those jobs, and we all need them if we want even a chance of combating climate change for our children.”
Speaking by phone from the occupied Blade Runner barge, Robin Sivapalan, a Unison member from the group Workers Climate Action, said “Workers like Jamie were victimised and robbed of their redundancy pay for taking a stand on behalf of all of us,. If Vestas want the blockade lifted, they had better start talking about re-instatement and terms. And if the government want the protests to end they had better drop the greenwash and start taking some real action for a renewable power industry in this country”.
Meanwhile, other sacked Vestas workers are at the TUC conference in Liverpool, lobbying the labour movement for solidarity action and support on Thursdays “National Day of Action”, while
workers from the Lush Cosmetics factory in Poole, Dorset, are taking part in direct action training at the Vestas Marine Gate blockade on the Newport-Cowes cycle path, Newport IOW.
Location: BBC Ohio and cranes - Empress Dock, Eastern Docks, Southampton
Blade Runner barge – Opposite Town Quay, (Red Funnel Terminal)
Best view: Blade Runner east from Town Quay;
BBC Ohio and cranes – restricted access through Oceanographic Centre, or by sea/air.
On the Docks protest: Jackie Sheedy, 07944 744922;
Jamie Rigby (sacked Vestas worker), 07875 441668 and Martin Shaw 07950539254 at END OF TOWN QUAY, Southampton.
Robin Sivapalan, 07974 331053
For interview off site: Ian Terry at TUC conference, 07970 739921
Mark Smith at TUC conference, 07980703115
Lush Campaigns Manager: Andrew Butler on 07876 596541
Campaign Video including Jamie's jump: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4CrTEFtSGU
Shipping and Docks info:
http://www.ais-live.co.uk/AIS%20Live/aissolent.html and http://www.abports.co.uk/files/southampton%202008.pdf