Page last updated at 10:10 GMT, Thursday, 23 July 2009 11:10 UK

Sit-in turbine workers fenced in

Vestas protest
Workers inside the factory say they will stay for "as long as it takes"

The owners of a wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight have fenced off the site, where about 25 staff have entered a third day of a sit-in protest.

Danish company Vestas Windsystems plans to make 625 workers redundant at the end of July, despite rising profits.

Workers said the fence was being built to stop food or drink being sent up from people outside, but the company has now agreed to supply food.

Vestas said talks at the site were continuing and it would not comment.

Protesters, who occupied the Newport site on Monday at about 1930 BST, said managers had given them until Tuesday night to end their action or face the sack.

'Denied aid'

The protesters said electric and telephone lines had been temporarily cut, but police said the power to the building has never been turned off.

"It's appalling," said one of the workers.

"But the more the management try to flush us out, the more determined we are to dig in our heels."

Police outside the Vestas offices
Police officers have been monitoring the protest since it began on Monday

A total of five people have now been arrested at the site, police said.

Two men, aged 23 and 41, were held overnight, one on suspicion of criminal damage and the other on suspicion of entering an area cordoned off by police.

On Wednesday, a 28-year-old man was held on suspicion of assaulting an officer and later bailed.

A 38-year-old man arrested on suspicion of breach of the peace was released without charge.

A 49-year-old man was charged with breach of the peace and remanded in custody to appear before Isle of Wight magistrates later.

The campaigners have called on Ed Miliband, the energy and climate change secretary, to travel to the island to speak to them.

About 200 workers staged a protest outside the factory on Tuesday after being turned away when they arrived for work.

Why hasn't the government supported Vestas as it has the car industry?
Nick Rau
Friends of the Earth

They were also joined by climate change protesters who are supporting them.

Police said Vestas had started legal action to gain an injunction which would remove the sit-in protesters.

The company said the factory was being closed next week because of reduced demand for wind turbines in northern Europe.

Friends of the Earth's energy campaigner Nick Rau said: "The UK has the best wind resources in the whole of Europe and we should be creating green energy jobs, not shedding them.

"Why hasn't the government supported Vestas as it has the car industry, and taken enough action to keep wind turbine manufacturing jobs here in the UK?"

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said the plant made blades for the US market which were not the right specification for onshore or offshore wind farms in the UK.

"We are hopeful that Vestas will go ahead with their plans for a research and development facility on the Isle of Wight which could provide up to a further 300 jobs and also help develop and test products that are suitable for the UK offshore market," she said.


Workers have called on the government to save the factory

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