Page last updated at 18:54 GMT, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 19:54 UK

Sit-in wind blade factory closes

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

Vestas has confirmed its wind turbine blade factory on the Isle of Wight has closed with the loss of 425 jobs.

Workers at the Newport site held a sit-in protest over the planned closure, which ended last week after 19 days when they were evicted by bailiffs.

Rallies have been held across the UK in support of the workers who were told earlier, along with staff in Southampton, they had been laid off.

The Danish firm blamed the lack of demand for wind turbines in the UK.

The protests across the UK were organised by the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and included events in Cowes on the Isle of Wight and in Southampton.

'Difficult decision'

Demonstrations in about 15 other towns and cities were due to take place including in Birmingham, Brighton, Liverpool, Sheffield and Cardiff.

Eleven employees involved in the sit-in had already been sacked by Vestas as a result of their 19-day sit-in protest.

A rally in Southampton was one of several held across the UK

The demonstration ended on Friday when the workers were evicted by bailiffs, with some workers abseiling and jumping from the first-floor office they had been occupying.

Ian Terry, who spent the full 19 days inside the factory, said: "The workers now know where they stand, they are redundant and they have their money. But the fight is still going on.

"Vestas is not going to budge on things because the decisions are being made from higher up.

"They thought we were going to be an easy ride as we are not unionised, but our workforce are strong."

He said he still hoped some jobs could be saved before the site eventually closed.

Vestas said as of Wednesday production had ceased at its sites and staff had been made redundant.

But 57 employees will continue to work at the Newport factory "for months rather than weeks" to help in clearing and closing the site for good.

Another 40 employees have been found new roles in the firm's research and development facility on the island.

Worker jumps from factory
One of the workers jumped from the first-floor office

Ole Borup Jakobsen, president of Vestas Blades, said: "The decision to close the factory was very difficult, and we fully recognise the impact this will have on employees, their families and on the Isle of Wight.

"Nonetheless, this commercial decision was absolutely necessary to secure Vestas' competiveness.

"We understand and have sympathy that employees are deeply affected by the closure."

He added that all workers had received information, advice and guidance on finding new jobs.

Vestas said redundancy payments would be more than double those required by statute.

The firm said it would continue research and development activities on the Isle of Wight, and maintain its sales and service business in the UK.

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