Thursday, 6 August 2009

First wind-turbines, now batteries - more jobs under threat

The threat to close the Vestas wind-turbine factory in the Isle of Wight has provoked widespread outrage - how can the government claim a commitment to green jobs while allowing these jobs to go to the wall? Why should we stand by and see these jobs lost when they are essential to countering climate change? Why should the government spend billions of our money bailing out banks and yet do so little to protect manufacturing?

The campaign by Vestas workers and their supporters has been truly inspirational. Whatever the final outcome of this dispute, they have pushed the issues of jobs and the environment far higher up the political agenda than if they had walked away. It looks likely that tomorrow the management will try to evict the occupiers - let's hope that there is enough support to prevent that happening. Either way, this is not an issue that will go away.

In this context, the announcement that Exide intend to close their battery plant in Bolton is even more outrageous. If we are to successfully tackle climate change, the ability to store and move energy will be crucial, so that power can be generated from low-carbon sources and used where it is needed.

Nobody can be left under any illusion that this government has any commitment to protecting manufacturing jobs or the environment. But that doesn't mean they can't be forced to act if the campaigns are strong enough.

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