Isle of Wight Vestas workers sit-in against plant closure, 2009


The protesting employees aimed to prevent the Vestas Newport factory from closing.

Time period

20 July, 2009 to 12 August, 2009


United Kingdom

Location City/State/Province

Newport, Isle of Wight
Jump to case narrative

Methods in 1st segment

Methods in 2nd segment

Methods in 4th segment

Additional methods (Timing Unknown)

Segment Length

4 days


Not known


Workers Climate Action
Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers union (RMT)- Bob Crow

External allies

Climate Camp, Campaign Against Climate, Climate Rush, and Plane Stupid

Involvement of social elites

Trades Union Congress general secretary Brendan Barber


Vestas Wind Systesms
Ed Miliband, UK environment secretary

Nonviolent responses of opponent

Not known

Campaigner violence

Not known

Repressive Violence

Not known


Economic Justice



Group characterization

Vestas workers and environmentalists

Groups in 1st Segment

Workers Climate Action

Groups in 2nd Segment

and Transport Workers union (RMT)

Segment Length

4 days

Success in achieving specific demands/goals

0 out of 6 points


1 out of 1 points


3 out of 3 points

Total points

4 out of 10 points

Database Narrative

In April 2009, Vestas Wind Systems announced the planned closure of two of its factories, which together employed 625 people.  The larger of the two, located in Newport, Isle of White, was the UK’s only major wind turbine production site.  Despite the UK environment secretary Ed Miliband’s discourse about green energy, the company claimed that there was not sufficient demand in the UK for wind turbines.  Vestas relocated these facilities to Colorado, where the market was better.

Factory workers demanded that the British government prevent the closure of the Vestas factory by nationalizing the plant. Workers framed their campaign in terms of their local economy as well as its implications for the future of green jobs.  Workers Climate Action, a socialist and environmental organization, helped the workers to develop their campaign and encouraged them to escalate.  

On 20 July 2009 about twenty-five Vestas workers started a sit-in of the management office in the Newport facility.  They locked the doors of the office and stated that they would nonviolently resist removal until their demands were met.  

On 21 July, managers of Vestas threatened the occupiers with charges and the elimination of their severance packages, causing two of those participating in the sit-in to leave.  A private security firm sealed the doors to the locked offices, cut the phone lines, and blocked food and water deliveries.

On 22 July, hundreds of other Vestas employees and supporters rallied outside of the plant in solidarity.  Police arrested someone passing food through the fence to the occupiers.  The Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers union endorsed the Vestas protesters that afternoon, creating a unique coalition spanning environmental and labor interests.  The union announced that Bob Crow, its general secretary, would visit Newport the next day to express his solidarity with the protesters.

At a rally on 23 July, Crow announced that the Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers union would provide legal support to the protesters in the approaching court case, and announced that the union planned to re-provision the occupiers by helicopter.

On 27 July, protesters called on Ed Milliband in Oxford to save Vestas.  Milliband announced that the government would fund Vestas Technology, a green technology research center on the Isle of Wight. Vestas stated that Milliband’s announcement did not affect the closure of the plant.

On 28 July, the organizers of Somerset’s annual environmental festival- the Big Green Gathering- cancelled the event four days before its start.  Several organizations involved with the event called for ticket-holders to instead travel to the Isle of Wight to be in solidarity with the workers occupying Vestas.  Hundreds traveled to what became known as the Isle of Wight “Vestival,” including members of Climate Camp, Campaign Against Climate, Climate Rush, and Plane Stupid.

Vestas took the protesters to court on 4 August.  Bob Crow defended the protesters in court.  The judge, Graham White, granted Vestas the right to repossess their facility from the protesters.  After the court hearing, two hundred Vestas workers and supporters marched to the plant.  Occupiers spoke to the street demonstrators from a balcony, calling for two national solidarity days of action.  Campaigners began a solidarity occupation of a Vestas Wind Systems factory in Cowes, demanding that Vestas rehire the Newport protesters and not close the factory.  Four activists occupied the roof and dropped a banner reading: “Vestas Workers- Solidarity in Occupation.  Save Green Jobs.”  Trades Union Congress general secretary Brendan Barber expressed support for the Vestas protesters and pressured Miliband to intervene in the closure. 

On 7 August, bailiffs acting on a court order removed the eleven remaining protesters from the Newport factory after they had occupied it for eighteen days on.  On 12 August, the Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers union helped to organize actions, including leafleting, petitioning, picketing and rallying, in sixteen cities across the UK.  The sit-in delayed the official announcement of the Vesta plant closure from the end of July to 12 August.  


Vidal, John. “Big Green Gathering festival cancelled after ‘political pressure.’” The Guardian. 27 July 2009. Web. 23 Feb. 2013. <>.

Lewis, Paul. “Isle of Wight police prepare for activists after cancellation of green festival.” The Guardian. 28 July 2009. Web. 23 Feb. 2013. <>.

Macalister, Terry. “Vestas dispute: Red and green coalition forms to fight wind plant closure.” The Guardian. 23 July 2009. Web. 23 Feb. 2013. <>.

Milne, Seumas. “Even the Isle of Wight wants Miliband to buck the market.” The Guardian. 22 July 2009. Web. 23 Feb. 2013. <>.

“RMT pledges full support to Vestas occupation- Bob Crow to visit factory tomorrow.” RMT. 22 July 2009. Web. 23 Feb. 2013. <>.

Milliband, Ed, MP. “Why Vestas closed the Isle of Wight plant.” The Guardian. 23 July 2009. Web. 23 Feb. 2013. <>.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy

Laura Rigell, 25/02/2013