Page last updated at 16:36 GMT, Saturday, 1 August 2009 17:36 UK

Sit-in workers' 'starved' claim

Vestas protest
Vestas has blamed the closure on a drop in demand

A union has complained to police over claims that workers occupying a wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight are having their human rights breached.

Protesters have been staging a sit-in at the Vestas turbine blade factory in Newport over plans to axe 625 jobs.

Union bosses accused the firm of trying to "starve" the workers out by restricting access to food and drink.

A rally has been held outside the factory, the latest in a series of events staged to support them.

The factory was due to close on Friday but is now set to shut on 10 August.

We will fight with every tool available to get food into the workers on the inside
Bob Crow
RMT general secretary

Responding to the rally in a statement, the protesters said: "It is great to see you all out there despite the awful weather.

"You guys being here today just proves the support continues to grow and grow."

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) announced earlier it had lodged a formal complaint to police in Newport over the actions of security guards working for Vestas after it received advice from a human rights lawyer.

The lawyer, Louise Christian, said: "There is a positive obligation under the Human Rights Act on the State and its agents, i.e the police, to prevent private individuals from depriving others of their liberty.

"It therefore appears to me that the local police have a positive obligation to prevent the security agents employed by Vestas stopping people coming in to deliver food to those in occupation."

The protesters, who began the sit-in on 20 July, have been receiving about two meals a day from Vestas, but the union said it had not been enough.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "It's disgusting that Vestas are trying to starve the workers out.

Removal bid

"We will fight with every tool available to get food into the workers on the inside whose only crime is to fight for their livelihoods and the future of green energy."

The protesters say 25 of them have been inside the factory but only 11 workers, who the firm has identified, have been sacked.

The Danish firm's bid to have the workers removed failed on Wednesday when a judge ruled removal papers had not been served in accordance with legal rules.

The case at Newport County Court was adjourned until Tuesday.

Peter Kruse, spokesman for Vestas, told the BBC: "We can only hope that the people on the inside will also realise that this has implications for people outside."

Vestas has blamed its decision to close the factory on a lack of demand for wind turbines in the UK market.


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