Thursday, May 24, 2007

New Labour targets the disabled

Workers from Remploy donned giant costumes to draw attention to their protest over government taking vital work from them and handing it to private contractors.
Here they are gathering siignatures from fellow trades unionists at a conference in Liverpool.
That was two years ago, and now more of the government plan is unfolding with the announcement of 43 closures, affecting areas of high unemployment.

Scale of closures shocks Remploy disabled workers

22 May 2007

TRADE unions trying to save the jobs of disabled workers say they have been shocked by the scale of closures announced by the Blair-Brown government. Responding to the announcement yesterday of 43 Remploy factory closures* Phil Davies, Secretary of the trade union consortium said, "This is an act of industrial sabotage which the government and the Remploy board of directors are trying to impose on disabled people and their families.

"The 43 factory closures are in areas of high unemployment. We believe that the whole of the trade union movementwill support our fight to secure these jobs and these factories. The trade unions will now seek authority for a national official strike ballot in all 83 Remploy sites. The company and the government have taken no account of the advice given to them over the past 12 months".

The unions' campaign to save Remploy jobs has been dealt a smack in the face by the announcement from various charities that they were not opposed to closure, supposedly because disabled workers would prefer integration into the general workforce. This ignores the facts: that some of these workers were at one time employed in other factories before having to find "sheltered" employment; and that there is no guarantee, especially in areas of high unemployment, that those who are being sacked will be able to find other employment.
Maybe we should know how much these voluntary sector organisations depend on help and concessions from government, and how this makes them better qualified than the unions to speak for disabled workers?

Jenny Formby, Unite T&G section, chair of the Remploy Trade Union Consortium said, "The sheer scale of the closures and its impact on disabled workers is both shocking and unprecedented. The grotesque spectacle of six organisation, purporting to represent disabled people, supporting these job loses is outrageous andequally shocking. It will not pass unchallenged. The trade unions are not arguing to maintain the status quo. The trade unions' alternative business plan, costed to remain within the £555M cash envelope, not only maintains the factory network in manufacturing but expands and develops the role of all factories to become a resource for the whole disabled community."

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