Remploy workers were in occupying offices of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in London when the Morning Star went to press.
The act of civil disobedience by the workers came after several calls by TUC delegates for greater use of the tactic in highlighting and defeating the cuts.
The disabled workers, who are represented by the GMB union, handed out leaflets outside the TUC Congress to highlight their national “road show” to secure employment before marching on the DWP offices.
After police had been called to remove the militant workers GMB’s national secretary for the manufacturing sector Phil Davies told the Morning Star that the occupation was the “beginning of our campaign to stop the closures” of Remploy factories.
“We are going to see more civil disobedience by disabled people over the coming months,” he said, saying the workers would remain in occupation of the offices until thrown out by police.
“It’s about bringing awareness to the public that we are not going to accept closures.”
Mr Davies revealed that employers had conducted a botched consultation process in which leading shop stewards at Remploy had not been invited to attend despite being given assurances that they would have a say.
3 thoughts on “Disabled staff occupy DWP”
There is another fight we have to take up. Its the right to work. For me what makes the changes to benefits so bad and so unfair is that work for disabled people is just not there especially in a recession. The fact that the government are doing nothing to address this problems exposes the lie that the changes are to help us. If they guenuinly wanted to help us then they would be looking at real ways to help us find work, they would be looking at ways of getting employers to take us on and make allowances and adoptions to accomidate our conditions. They would be enforcing equalities so all public buildings, pubs, resturaunts etc as well were accessible and with facilities. But they’re not, they’re just going to take our benefits off us and hang us out to dry. The majority of us would rather be working but ESA has got nothing to do with finding us or helping us into work.
For years I argued that we should be able to claim incapacity, look for work when we were able but easilly claim incapacity again when our health deteriorated. There should have been hellp available to help us find sutable work and work which would recognise our needs but that never happened. Instead changes to incapacity werre made that actually did the opposite, made sure that we would try and find work because if we did we’d lose the benefit and if by some chance we found work then the next time we had to stop the incapacity we got would be at a lower rate.
Atos and the DWP are finding chronically sick and disabled patients “fit for work” – but what kind of work and what kind of environment do they have in mind?
Just for instance – working in a hazardous environment with dangerous machinery alongside someone who has been found “fit for work” but who is prone to dizzy spells, blackouts and lack of concentration due to the debilitating effects of their chronic condition is a very serious accident waiting to happen.
It isn’t just the NHS which these DWP-Atos “functional assessments” have been designed to completely bypass, but health and safety at work regulations too, seemingly.
I have heard that if you can use a laptop and chat on the internet then DWP-Atos consider that evidence of being fit to work in, say, a call centre – except the call centre employer would have to provide beds and couches for their chronically ill and disabled staff to recline on, and allow them to rest and sleep and recover whenever it was necessary. I know of no working environment nor employer who indulges in such workplace routines and practices. Quite the opposite.
The DWP idea of what constitues work is completely at odds with reality.
The DWP should be required to define what they regard as meaningful work and a typical workplace environment and routine.
Some health charities have addressed this question to Prof Harrignton in his latest call for evidence, here in this report in PDF format –