Page last updated at 12:06 GMT, Thursday, 23 July 2009 13:06 UK

Turbine workers talk of sit-in life

by Michael Stoddard
BBC South

Protestor sleeping
The workers have only been getting a few hours sleep a night

The 25 or so workers continuing a sit-in protest at the Vestas wind turbine site on the Isle of Wight say morale is high, but what is it really like on the inside?

The all-male group have been sleeping on the floor, washing in a sink basin and running low on food.

One of the workers, who did not want to be named, said: "There are a few stinky bodies and it is hard being away from your family and kids but we've managed to stay in touch on our mobiles which has been great.

"One guy has even called us up after seeing the publicity and asked for our mobile numbers and topped our phones up with £10, it's great to see such support."

They are protesting at Danish company Vestas Windsystems plan to make 625 workers redundant at the end of this month, despite rising profits.

The men have been telling each other jokes in a bid to keep spirits up.

'Face sack'

"One of the guys found a pair of latex cycling shorts in the office, so we all had a good laugh when he put them on and ran around.

"Just little things like that keep the atmosphere good."

He jokingly added: "It's all guys here so good to be away from the women for a while."

Protestors
The workers say morale is still high inside the factory

The protester said the experience is probably similar to being on the television show Big Brother.

"It is a bit, but no arguments yet.

"We are pretty cut off from the outside world and food has been running low, there's no television and we've been mostly listening to the radio.

"We've just been living on things like sausage rolls, pasties, crisps and a few bits of fruit. We could really do with a KFC.

"But we've all seen the survival shows and know we can go a while without food as long as we have the basics.

"There's a water machine in the office and a coffee and tea vending machine.

"There's a toilet so there's no problem with that and a few guys brought some spare socks and clothes."

Vestas has now erected a fence at the entrance to the site to stop people throwing food up to a balcony for workers, but the firm has agreed to deliver food supplies.

The workers have also claimed the firm has told them they have been sacked and will lose redundancy pay.

'Not much sleep'

Protesters filmed this footage from the occupied Vestas office

The men locked themselves in a first-floor office of about 40ft by 40ft on Monday evening and have been staying up at night in shifts to guard the doors.

"A lot of us had not had much sleep. I've been getting about two hours a night.

"But we've been turning office chairs upside down and using the head rests as pillows even though they are not the most comfortable.

"This protest is a last-ditch attempt to save our jobs, we want the government to come down here and help us."

The group have vowed to continue their sit-in for "as long as it takes".

The worker said the managers are still coming into work on the floor below.

Vestas protest
A fence was put up on Wednesday but Vestas is supplying food

"So far only the middle managers have spoken to us, not the big bosses," he said.

"It started with a few phone calls, then we spoke through a crack in a door but today we let one in with the food.

"He said we had made our point and come down, but we want action first."

Vestas has not commented on the protest and only told the BBC a consultation on the site's future is on-going.

The firm has previously said the factory was being closed due to reduced demand for wind turbines in northern Europe.



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