425 jobs axed as turbines firm closes sites

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The Independent Online

A wind turbine blade factory which sparked an 18-day occupation announced today it is closing two sites with the loss of 425 jobs.

Vestas said it will cease blade production activities at the company's sites on the Isle of Wight and in Southampton, Hants resulting in 425 employees being made redundant.

Employees were informed of the decision today, the firm said.

The occupation of the Danish-owned Vestas factory ended last week when workers left the building after an 18-day protest.

One of the workers jumped 20ft from a balcony before being led away by security guards, waving and smiling at the climate change activists and trade unionists who had been outside giving support during the protest.

The factory's owner, Vestas Wind Systems, had obtained a court order after six workers barricaded themselves into the plant, on an industrial estate on the outskirts of Newport, Isle of Wight, for more than two weeks in a bid to delay its closure and the loss of 625 jobs.

Members of the Climate Rush campaign group also chained themselves to Business Secretary Lord Mandelson's two-storey property in Regent's Park, north London, in an "act of solidarity" for the workers.

The firm said 40 employees have been found new roles within the Vestas research and development facility on the Isle of Wight.

In addition, 57 employees will continue to work at the factory for a further period to assist in its closure.

Ole Borup Jakobsen, president of Vestas Blades, said: "The decision to close the factory was very difficult and we fully recognise the impact this will have on employees, their families and on the Isle of Wight.

"Nonetheless, this commercial decision was absolutely necessary to secure Vestas's competitiveness and create a regional balance between production and the demand for wind turbines.

"We understand and have sympathy that employees are deeply affected by the closure.

"Throughout the consultation period, minimising the impact on employees and providing all the support we can in this situation has been our first and foremost priority.

"The employee representatives and the local factory management have worked closely with local job centres and career counsellors to ensure employees have received professional help to identify alternative career and employment opportunities."