House Of Fun Madness
Workers who took part in an occupation of an Isle of Wight wind turbine factory which closed with the loss of hundreds of jobs, are to open their own business making turbines just yards from the site of their former employers.
More than 400 workers lost their jobs when Vestas went out of business a year ago, sparking an 18-day sit-in at the factory in Newport.
Sean McDonagh, who helped organise the protest, has launched a new company, Sureblades, which will start producing wind turbine blades in September, employing a number of ex-Vestas workers. Mr McDonagh, 32, said he hoped to employ more than 40 workers within two years, with the first order going to a wind energy firm in Ireland.
"It has been hard work but I always knew it was the right thing to do because it was crazy to lose jobs in the renewable energy industry,'' he told the Press Association.
Mr McDonagh said a number of former Vestas employees were still out of work and others had taken on short-contract jobs.
Unemployment on the Isle of Wight is over 3,500 but there are fewer than 200 job vacancies on the island, he said.
Workers in the new company are members of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, which has helped with the venture.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "The former Vestas workers behind this imaginative new project have completely destroyed the argument put forward by the company at the time of closure that there was no market for UK-manufactured
"Through their efforts to create jobs they have blown apart the bogus grounds put forward at the time for closure and redundancy of the workforce.
"RMT is very proud of what our former Vestas members have achieved so far and we are right behind them. They have also shown that it is far too easy for companies in the UK to soak up Government grants and then just cut and run when
it suits them without any meaningful consultation, never mind a ballot of the workforce.
"We are also very pleased that the planned new operation will be RMT-organised and that officials of this trade union have helped open the doors and make the contacts which have turned this project into a reality.
"The real credit lies with the determination and solidarity of the workers who refused to accept that they were beaten. They are an inspiration.''
Micro turbine blades will be built at the new factory, which is on the same industrial estate as the former Vestas site.