Page last updated at 07:40 GMT, Monday, 29 March 2010 08:40 UK

Former Isle of Wight Vestas workers 'on lower pay'

The protests at Vestas lasted for 18 days
The protests at Vestas lasted for 18 days last summer

A BBC questionnaire of former Vestas workers has found many have been forced to accept lower paid jobs.

The wind firm was at the centre of an 18-day sit-in by workers last year after it said 593 jobs would go at its Isle of Wight and Southampton plants.

A questionnaire of 75 former workers found almost two-thirds had found new jobs, but 76% were earning less.

It comes as the government has been criticised for not doing enough to create new jobs in "green" industries.

BBC Radio Solent questioned 75 of the 425 former workers at the Isle of Wight factory, with 63% (47) of them saying they had found new employment.

'Hit family hard'

Overall, 76% (57) said they were earning less, 13% (10) earning the same, 7% (5) earning more and 4% of those questioned (3) declined to answer.

Former worker Penny Draper, from Freshwater, took up bar work after she lost her job.

"I was on a fraction of the salary, obviously the island is dependent on tourist and through winter my hours at the pub got less and less," she said.

"I have since got employment at a school but it is still a lot less money than at Vestas.

"It has hit the family hard, especially with two young children."

Penny Draper at Vestas factory in US
Former worker Penny Draper was forced to take up bar work

Andrew Ryder, an economic development expert from the University of Portsmouth, said: "One of the problems on the Isle of Wight is that it has a very small industrial base so there are less options for these workers.

"So what happens is people earn less, spend less, so there is a knock-on effect and others jobs would have undoubtedly been lost due to the closure."

Vestas blamed the job cuts on a lack of demand in the wind industry in Britain, but said the firm went "well beyond other companies" to help those who were made redundant.

Rob Sauven, from the firm, said: "We paid on average twice the national minimum for redundancy, we gave everyone 90 days of mentoring and coaching.

"At the end of the day we were manufacturing something on the island which was never used in the UK market."

It comes after the Energy and Climate Change Committee criticised the government for not doing enough to create new jobs in the "green" sector.

Southampton Test Labour MP Dr Alan Whitehead, who is a member of the committee, said: "We know that over the next few years we are going to have to change the way we deliver our energy and the way we use it.

"There is some disappointment in terms of progress to date but what is now happening is a great deal of effort to set up a plan to what happens over the next 10 years."



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