Page last updated at 12:54 GMT, Friday, 7 August 2009 13:54 UK

Tears and cheers as wind sit-in ends

by Michael Stoddard
BBC South

Worker jumps from Vestas factory
The workers ended the protest in dramatic fashion

There were cheers, tears and defiance as the final six Vestas workers ended their 19-day sit-in protest.

Bailiffs had to force their way inside the first-floor office, which has been the protesters' home since 20 July.

One worker leapt from a balcony, landing in a bush.

Two others abseiled from the factory while hundreds of supporters aimed chants of "shame" at the factory owners.

"It is all a bit bewildering but it's a wonderful feeling to get out and a major relief," one of the workers told BBC News.

"We all feel like we have scored a moral victory and believe it has been more than worthwhile.

"I can't wait to have a cold beer, long wash and a chicken vindaloo curry."

VESTAS SIT-IN ENDS
Steve Humphrey
By the BBC's Steve Humphrey on the Isle of Wight

After 19 days of a tense stand off, it all ended in less than an hour in a frantic and dramatic fashion.

As the men abseiled, jumped and walked out of the Vestas factory there were lots of emotional family reunions.

It had been a very public campaign and ended in a very public way - just as the workers would have wanted.

They all looked remarkably well but in need of a good meal and shower, but still vowing to fight on.

The group had barricaded themselves inside the wind turbine blade factory in Newport on the Isle of Wight in protest at Vestas' plans to close the site and other operations with the loss of 625 jobs.

They defied requests to leave from management, a court order and only left when bailiffs arrived to evict them.

It is thought up to 12 workers had occupied the factory during the protest with little food and limited washing and sleeping facilities.

The worker who did not wish to be named, added: "It has been hard, but the support we have seen grow around the country has been amazing.

"But it was great to have a hug from my daughter, who shed a few tears, and see my mum and dad.

'Prospects bleak'

"I'm not sure if I became institutionalised but it was sad to leave the factory, it had become our home.

"I didn't know a lot of the guys when we went in but we have become great friends."

Protestors
New friendships have blossomed during the sit-in

The men had demanded their jobs were saved and called on the government to nationalise the factory.

Those demands look to have fallen on deaf ears, with the Danish wind turbine firm sacking the workers and taking away their redundancy packages.

"It was a disappointment when we knew the redundancy had gone but it made us more determined to stay as long as we can.

"I'll have to get down the Jobcentre next week and the prospects look bleak.

"I'm 42 years old and have worked for 25 years, I've always had a job.

"It's going to be tough getting something new, especially with work tight on the Isle of Wight, but all of us are determined not to be a burden on the taxpayer."

Protestor sleeping
Protesters were only able to get a few hours sleep each night

The protest has been the longest sit-in ever seen on the Isle of Wight and has made headlines around the world.

The workers have vowed the campaign will not stop with their eviction and plan to organise rallies and marches in the coming weeks.

The worker added: "We are going to keep it all going in the hope something may happen in the future."

Vestas has blamed the plans to lay off the 625 workers on a drop in demand.

Peter Kruse, Vestas spokesman, said: "We have always understood the frustrations of the workers but have been surprised at the length of this action."



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