Archive for the ‘occupation’ Tag

Vestas workers besieged by riot police

Vestas workers besieged by riot police

Workers staging a sit-in at the soon-to-close Vestas wind turbine plant on the Isle of Wight are being starved out by police.

The police, many inside the factory and dressed in riot gear, have denied food to the workers who took over the factory offices last night, to protest about the closure of their factory. The police, operating with highly questionable legal authority, have surrounded the offices, preventing supporters from joining the sit-in, and preventing food from being brought to the protestors.

Around 20 workers at the Vestas Plant in Newport, on the Isle of Wight, occupied the top floor of offices in their factory to protest against its closure which will result in over 500 job losses.

Acting without an injunction, on private property, the police have repeatedly tried to break into the office where the protesting workers have barricaded themselves, and have threatened the workers with arrest for aggravated trespass, despite the fact that no damage has been done to the property where the protest is taking place. Police have also forcibly removed people from private property, another action that is of very questionable legality in the absence of a formal injunction.

The officer involved in the latter action was number 3606. The officer who appears to be in charge is 3115. It may help to let the local police authorities know that we are unhappy with their handling of the situation – in this case the email address to bombard is professional.standards@hampshire.pnn.police.uk

This heavy handed response is the latest in a long line of over-reactions to protest by various UK police forces.

For more updates on the Vestas occupation please visit Save Vestas.

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Turbine factory shuts over sit-in

Turbine factory shuts over sit-in

A sit-in protest by about 25 workers has closed the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight.

Danish company Vestas Windsystems plans to lay off 625 workers at the end of July, despite rising profits.

It said the Newport factory was being closed due to reduced demand for wind turbines in northern Europe.

Those inside the Newport offices say they will stay until “someone listens”. Vestas said a consultation on the site’s future was still on-going.

The workers began their protest at about 1930 BST on Monday.

Reoccupation of the Wyndford www.citystrolls.com

Housing Activists Seize “Mr and Mrs Expenses MP” Home!

Housing Activists Seize “Mr and Mrs Expenses MP” Home!

A group of housing activists have entered and occupied the house of Anne and Alan Keene. Both Labour MPs they were known as “Mr and Mrs Expenses” two years before the MP spending scandal broke; Mrs Keen, a health minister recently admitted making an expense claim for private hospital treatment for a member of her staff. At the centre of their scandal was their double mortgage claim, where they illegally used Parliamentary expenses to pay interest on the mortgages of both their homes – one of which has now been occupied by outraged locals along with activists from all backgrounds and nationalities.

It was revealed several days ago that they faced having their Hounslow constituency home repossessed by the council after leaving it empty for over a year. The £385,000 three-bedroom terrace was being renovated whilst they stayed in their central home London near Parliament which they billed the public £137,679 for. After an alleged falling out with the builders the house was left empty, but at a local residents meeting a member of the public alerted activists to the location of the house, and 2 days ago it was occupied.

Even in a slump, strikes and occupations can get results

Even in a slump, strikes and occupations can get results

A revolution is taking place in industrial relations, the Confederation of British Industry claims, courtesy of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. A new “solidarity of employers and their employees” has taken hold, John Cridland, the CBI’s deputy director-general enthused this week, as managements and staff roll up their sleeves to take the “difficult decisions” needed to survive the slump.

If so, news of the new understanding clearly hasn’t reached Lincolnshire, where hundreds of engineering ­construction workers at the Lindsey oil refinery burned dismissal notices on Monday after they were sacked for going on strike – and thousands walked out in sympathy across the energy industry for the third time in five months.

The latest dispute began nearly a fortnight ago, when a subcontractor for Total, which owns the refinery, made 51 workers redundant while another contractor was hiring 61 staff on the same project. After hundreds stopped work in protest and unofficial strikes spread by text and flying pickets across Britain, 647 workers were summarily sacked on Thursday night.

By any reckoning, this was surely a provocative and self-defeating move. Not only had the same workforce already demonstrated its capacity to shut down the site – and significant sections of the wider industry – if it believed agreements were being undercut. But the layoffs were in direct violation of a deal to settle an earlier dispute. Perhaps the idea was finally to bring to heel what one manager described as an “unruly workforce”. But after point-blank refusals to negotiate until the workers had applied for their jobs back, the contractors blinked once again and were back in talks on Tuesday, now due to be resumed .

This was, after all, the same group of workers whose unofficial strikes stopped refineries and power stations all over the country in February after a Sicilian contractor shipped in a non-union, and apparently less skilled, Italian and Portuguese workforce. That first Lindsey walkout was portrayed as anti-foreigner because of “British jobs for British workers” placards held by some strikers, as to a lesser extent was another strike in May over a refusal to take on locally based labour at ExxonMobil’s South Hook terminal in Wales.

In fact, both walkouts were clearly aimed at halting the exploitation of EU directives and European court ­judgments to undermine the terms and conditions of all workers in the industry, British and migrant alike – which is why hundreds of Polish workers joined the stoppages. And, crucially, they were successful. In a profitable and highly contractualised industry, a tightly knit workforce has turned a fragmentation designed to benefit employers to their own advantage.

Now, as the unions prepare to ballot 30,000 workers to turn the wildcat walkouts into an official strike, they look set to prevail again – just as Grangemouth oil refinery workers and Shell tanker drivers did last year in battles over pension rights and pay. Success seems to be catching.

London Metropolitan University under occupation

Campaigners have occupied London Metropolitan University in protest at plans for restructuring. The planned changes involve the sacking of large numbers of staff and closing of departments and facilities throughout the university.

The occupiers have released the following statement:

This is part of the campaign against London Metropolitan Universities plans to restructure. Read here for more

London’s biggest university- London Metropolitan University- is in the grips of a massive financial crisis threatening the entire future of the university.

1- The Government recently found that London Met had claimed that it had 7,000 more students than it actually did.

2- Every university receives an amount of money as funding PER STUDENT, so London Met had received millions of pounds too much.

3- Not only has London met been ordered to pay back the money (which it doesn’t have), but the budget has also been cut by £15 million a year.

4- To attempt to recover the money, London Met plans to impose devastating cuts- ONE IN FOUR members of staff are being made redundant, ALL BUT TWO libraries are to be closed (one City, one North), the Nursery will be closed, and many modules and courses are being closed.

5- In short, those who are not responsible for the financial problems are being punished for them- the staff and students.

6- The university is being run as a business, yet if it is a business then we the students are the customers, so why have the management not informed us and ACTIVELY LIED to us about the crisis and the cuts?

7- By losing OVER HALF OF OUR STAFF on some courses, we will not be able to continue receiving the standard of education we have been. The University cannot survive these cuts.

8- There is good news- YOU can help save the university. Everyone can. Any student or member of staff willing to get up and do something about this can stand up and fight.

9- It is a lot easier to help than you think [see below]. Let those who have already done so much for the campaign and have already started turning things around be your example.

10- We have received enormous media coverage and over 50 MPs have expressed deep concern at our situation.

A demonstration has been called by the UCU and UNISON trade unions in support of the occupation. More information and updates can be found at http://savelondonmetuni.blogspot.com/

Defeated Visteon offers former workers improved redundancy package

Defeated Visteon offers former workers improved redundancy package

After more than 30 days of protests across the country, the automotive parts company Visteon has finally cracked and offered its former workers what they deem to be an adequate redundancy package.

Nearly 600 jobs were lost at Visteon’s plants in Enfield, Belfast and Basildon just over a month ago, with staff being given less than an hour’s notice. The workers say they were given guarantees on pay and conditions when the company was spun out of Ford nine years ago.

Today Unite said a renewed deal, which goes beyond the Ford redundancy terms, had been accepted unanimously by the union’s convenors and shop stewards. The proposed settlement deal will see a considerable lift in the redundancy package offered to workers with long service and who previously worked for Ford.

Workers occupy Visteon Ford car plant in Enfield, North London

Workers at a car parts manufacturing plant in Enfield, North London, have occupied their workplace. The occupation began following news that 600 workers were to lose their jobs at plants in North London, Essex and Belfast.

Photos of the Enfield occupation can be found here, while ongoing coverage is available from libcom.org.

Occupiers have issued a leaflet explaining their action and issuing demands:

We have occupied our factory Ford Visteon workers have occupied our factory since Wednesday 1st April. The previous day in a meeting lasting just 6 minutes we were told that the European company, with plants in Belfast, Basildon and Ponders End, Enfield, was going into administration and that we were to leave – without our wages being paid. Personal possessions could be collected the next day, but at 10 o’clock the factory was locked closed. Workers had already occupied the Belfast factory.

We demand what is due to us The 200 workers who are part of the Ford subsidiary want the same conditions they have always had via “mirror contracts” with the parent company. Up to now they don’t know when they will get wages due, and their pensions are to be controlled by the government Pensions Protection Fund. This means a maximum of £9,000 payout, and much reduced conditions! Some of the women and men have 40 yrs service!

The whole situation has been created for news management – announce it during the G20 and it will get buried in the media. And this is largely what’s happened. The move is to save Visteon USA money at our expense.

But unexpectedly Unite union members have taken determined action that bosses thought they had eliminated years ago.

The workers want their existing terms respected. Ford Visteon can’t be allowed to avoid their responsibility. So far they have tried legal intimidation but have even managed to mess this up.

As well as proper redundancy payments, some are suggesting that the skills of the workers who can make anything in plastic, should be used to make increasingly needed parts for green products – bike and trailer parts, solar panels, turbines, etc. Government investment in this rather than throwing money at bankers could be profitable & save jobs in the long term.

On Saturday, supporters converged for a solidarity protest with the occupiers. Today the leader of the union will be demanded to appear in court, while in Belfast, the sit-in continues and messages of support come in from around the UK and further afield. An interview with some of the occupiers and workers can be found here.

Staff ‘confident’ of buying plant

Staff ‘confident’ of buying plant

Workers staging a sit-in at their factory in Dundee have said they are confident of getting the money to buy the business and run it as a co-op.

Staff at Prisme have been occupying the building since 4 March after being told they were losing their jobs without redundancy pay or wages they were due.

They have been meeting business advisors and are hopeful of securing loans to purchase the packaging firm.

They will also be taking legal action against the firm’s owners.

There is a core of about seven, out of the 12 former staff members, who are working in shifts to occupy the factory day and night.

David Taylor, 33, who has worked for the firm for seven years, said: “It’s tough, we are sleeping in the studio, that’s where the designing facilities are, but people are coming in with food and all sort of stuff to give us support.

“There’s a lot of solidarity out there for people such as ourselves.

Analysis of UK University Occupations.

Analysis of UK University Occupations.

The demands being made by UK students are directed not at some anonymous government figure head, or drudging up notions of rights and responsibilities.

Instead, they are calling for their universities themselves to actively respond to the situation, rather than passively remain a silent partner. The demands include scholarships for Palestinian students, equipment to be sent to students in Gaza, and for the universities to condemn Israel’s actions. There are also calls for disinvestment from companies which support the Israeli war machine.

What these demands do is not only prove that our student body is a thinking, articulate collective, but also that there is a wide spread linking up of our systems of authority. An Israeli student I spoke with after a planning meeting for one of these occupations said: ‘I don’t know what to believe any more – my history has been taken away from me.’ She has been radicalised by the recent conflicts – not because it has appealed to her on any particular level of identity, but because her notions of authority are being challenged.

As the recession hits deeper, and as the G20 hits London, more and more these questions of authority and legitimacy will be raised. Universities, as institutions privileged with cultural authority, are being forced to play out the ends of their own logic.

Imperialism is a method of capitalism and authority, and right now that is what is being challenged on our campuses. At SOAS the security guards brought in to deal with the protesters had their logic flipped back on them, being described as the real occupation on campus. And perhaps this is the exact kind of argument we need right now, demanding that our so-called leaders act up to their rhetoric, and then watch as they fail.

Related: photos from the Cambridge occupation are now available.