British disabled workers fight Conservative cuts


This video from Britain is called Remploy Workers Rally Manchester – 18 May 2012.

By Tony Patey and Rory MacKinnon in England:

Sacked workers storm Remploy HQ

Thursday 23 August 2012

Sacked Remploy workers stormed the company’s head office in Leicester today in a desperate bid to stop the government’s sell-off of sheltered workshops for people with disabilities.

Eight disabled workers including two union reps held Remploy House’s foyer from 11am – demanding answers from the company’s directors.

Until this year the state-owned company had 54 centres across Britain guaranteeing stable employment for people with disabilities from manufacturing to clerical work.

But Tory Minister for Disabled People Maria Miller has led plans to scrap the entire organisation over the next two years, saying money saved could be spent instead on employment support services.

The first wave, announced in March, will see 27 centres shut down before the year is out.

The closures will leave around 1,400 workers – 88 per cent of them legally classified as disabled – on the dole during record levels of unemployment.

GMB convener Les Woodward told the Morning Star he and the other staff had demanded to speak to a director, only to be told one was not available.

“We said this was unacceptable because we know there are many of them.

“They said they would contact a director who was in London, so we could speak to him on a conference phone. Then they started putting on all sorts of restrictions.”

A director finally took questions via conference call, saying he would pass them on to the rest of the board.

But Mr Woodward said the occupiers would stay there as long as they needed to get a reaction from directors – and they had brought along a book with 15,000 emailed messages of support to keep up morale.

Asked if police had been called, Mr Woodward said: “There have been some veiled threats and we suppose that might be the next stage of the proceedings.”

Workers at the Chesterfield and Springburn factories, which are among those facing closure, still plan to hold a week-long strike from September 3.

The government’s treatment of people with disabilities is likely to see increased international scrutiny as the Paralympic Games begin next week.

Further demonstrations are planned against its corporate sponsor, welfare privateer Atos.

Remploy activists are also planning a demonstration near the main stadium in Stratford on August 29.

6 thoughts on “British disabled workers fight Conservative cuts

  1. Remploy factories close in the UK as trade unions call token strikes

    Disabled workers employed by Remploy in the UK are to strike for four days from August 25. Members of the Unite and GMB unions are to strike at four sites in Chesterfield and Springburn, Glasgow.

    Remploy offers employment to the disabled and its workers are protesting plans by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat government to shut down 27 factories by the end of the year. The closures will see the loss of 1,700 jobs from the current level of 2,800. A further 18 factories will see their subsidy reduced while they are assessed for privatisation. The previous Labour Party government closed 28 Remploy factories in 2008, with the loss of more than 2,000 jobs.

    The strike has been called by the unions under conditions in which 25 of the factories already closed last week. Following two stoppages last month, the union called off a third planned stoppage, facilitating the governments’ closure programme.

    The cuts are part of the government’s overall £123 billion austerity programme and will effectively mean the end of Remploy, which was established as part of the 1945 welfare state.

    Most of these workers have been unable to find employment since. A survey earlier this year found that among the 2,500 Remploy workers who took redundancy in 2008, 85 percent of them were no longer in full-time employment.

    http://wsws.org/articles/2012/aug2012/wkrs-a24.shtml

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