Tuesday 24 July 2012

Remploy Workers To Strike Against Plant Closures

First day of strike action a great success – see report here

Trade unionists pledge support for Remploy fight – see report here


The Tory minister known by activists in the campaign to save jobs at Remploy as the “Factory Killer” lived up to her name yesterday.

pic: Guy Smallman

Maria Miller confirmed to Parliament that 27 of the 54 Remploy factories will shut between August and December.

In doing so, the Minister for Disabled People will be throwing more than 1,200 disabled workers and more than a hundred of their workmates on the scrapheap.

Miller argues that the £320m budget for disabled employment services could be spent more effectively.

And shamefully, some disability organisations, such as Radar agree with the closures as they are opposed to segregated employment.

Ellen Clifford, of Disabled People Against the Cuts said, “The government is using a report by the head of Radar to justify the Remploy closures. They use our language to justify their sinister assault on disabled people.”

The Government cares not a hoot for the futures of disabled people.

Work and Pensions minister Iain Duncan Smith recently insulted the Remploy workers saying that they were “not doing any work… just making cups of coffee” and that he was saving money and getting people into “proper jobs”.

However, since the last wave of Remploy closures, where New Labour shut 28 factories in 2008, just 6% of the 2,500 workers laid off managed to find new jobs.

With the ConDems continuing austerity drive, opportunities for disabled workers are far fewer.

And part of that austerity drive are massive cuts and attacks on disability benefits.

Remploy workers know that their fight against the factory closures is crucial.

That is why 80% of GMB members and 60% of Unite members voted for strike action in May.

The strikes take place from 6am on Thursday 19 July and from 6am on Thursday 26 July.

We urge every activist and every trade unionist to join the pickets at your nearest factory and bring your banners, your donations and your solidarity.

Email messages of support to mail@dpac.uk.net

Click here to download solidarity collection sheet

Click here for more





  1. Iain Scrivin said:

    Sodexo Defence Services Branch of the PCS Union sends its support and a message of solidarity to the Remploy Workers!
    keep the hope alive,
    Keep the fight strong,
    Keep the right to work!

    17 July 2012 at 9:14am
  2. Paul said:

    The media and government are constantly portraying the disabled and unemployed as scroungers but then is repeatedly putting people out of work … It’s called HYPOCRISY!!

    17 July 2012 at 7:11pm
  3. cheesemuncher said:

    I think there are parallels with what happened under Thatcher with community care. A host of studies revealing the effects of segregation and insitutionalisation on individuals, communities and society at large, supported and informed the disability rights movement’s demands for people to be treated as equal citizens who, if they required support, should be supported to live ordinary lives with other citizens in their communities. This coincided with a market ideology, which was predicated on the assumption that quality would follow demand and that this would lead to people getting better support and being able to live fulfilling lives. Despite the well-documented abusive and “dehumanising” effect of long stay hospitals, many people (including some people with disabilities and their families) were concerned that a way of life was under threat and fought, unsuccessfully, to keep them open. In the event, a plethora of small establishments sprang up taking advantage of perverse incentives to make money out people requiring care and support. Some of these were able to support people to live much happier lives whilst others developed as min-institutions and when their proprietors came to a certain age, they sold them off to massive companies and retired to South of France.

    The 1944 Disabled Persons (Employment) Act introduced designated employment (car park attendant and lift operator) and sheltered employment for people with disabilities. In order to work in sheltered employment, such as Remploy, people would need to pass a test to show they were unfit for mainstream employment. Although crude, the 1944 Act attempted to consider how to tackle disadvantage faced by people with disabilities in terms of both supply and demand for labour. Initially envisioned as providing employment for disabled war veterans, Remploy became a safe haven for people with disabilities (including those with mental health issues) experiencing discrimination and harassment in a not very caring community. It was also handy for local authorities as it received significant central funding.
    There have been few independent studies, but those that were carried out over the past 2 decades indicate that employees experienced poor outcomes, low wages, segregation and top down managerialism in Remploy workshops. Remploy failed over the years to empower its workforce or provide genuine opportunities for people to develop. However many benefited from the routine, socialisation, security and feeling of doing something productive. These genuinely felt benefits are not hugely different to those people felt in long-stay village hospitals where many were “employed” in industrial workshops, laundries, on the land etc. Of course they were branded “morons” “defectives” “lunatics” “defectives” “handicapped” and were denied basic human rights… but they were (allegedly) safe and the community was “safe” from them.

    Many supporters of Remploy say that they want it to remain open because the reality is that mainstream employers do still discriminate against people with disabilities and people are harassed and persecuted in their communities. On the whole it is true that prejudice against people with disabilities (particularly those with learning difficulties and mental health issues) is acceptable in mainstream society. Unlike racism, homophobia and sexism, it is generally OK for a public figure to express disablist views, often for comedic effect. So it’s hardly surprising that some see a need for special establishments – and perhaps there is. But I wonder if the argument stands up for other disadvantaged groups. Eg, if Black and Asian people were seen to have less opportunity and experience harassment /discrimination in mainstream society should there be special factories for them to work in where they will receive low pay and have no prospect of promotion but they will at least be with their own kind.

    There are genuine issues regarding the impact of segregated employment and like all these things, the positives and negatives are not clear cut. Unfortunately, these get lost in the context of a Tory government that may be inadvertently doing the right thing at the wrong time in a very cynical way. This can lead to the Left inadvertently supporting the wrong causes, though for laudable reasons.

    17 July 2012 at 8:58pm

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