Les Woodward

 


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Why Remploy workers are striking” was written by Les Woodward, for guardian.co.uk on Thursday 19th July 2012 12.19 Europe/London

There are two fundamental reasons why Remploy workers are striking today, and they are inextricably linked.

First, we do not accept that Remploy factories must be closed or privatised, especially when we are in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the depression of the thirties. We reject the arguments used by the government and certain charities who say the money saved can be used to increase initiatives such as Access to Work, helping disabled people into so-called mainstream employment. Access to Work does not in itself provide any job opportunities; it provides support when employment has been secured. We believe that the reason for closing/privatising Remploy is based purely on saving money to pay for the financial crisis, while ostensibly using the well-worn ideology that Remploy factories do not provide meaningful work and are old-fashioned.

The second reason, which is just as important, is that the company and the government want to close down Remploy on the cheap. The redundancy package on the table is far less than the redundancy package that was offered in the two previous voluntary redundancy packages of 2008 and 2011. We will not only be losing our jobs, but we will also be consigned to living in poverty, with a loss of dignity, potential ill health and, for some of us, even an early grave.

The consultation process has been a sham, with company representatives treating the trade unions and their members with nothing less than contempt. At the last meeting between the trade unions and the company on 26 June, assurances were given that the collective consultation process was still on going.

A few weeks later we learned via email that the collective consultation process was over. The company representatives lacked the moral fibre to tell us face to face.

This treatment highlights a callous indifference to the added stress imposed on loyal Remploy workers, some of whom have notched up three or four decades of service to the company. It is nothing short of despicable – made even worse when you consider that company directors should be aware of the effect their actions will have on people with special needs. To add extra fuel to the anger of the workers, we have learned today that provisional closing dates for factories have been set, again with absolutely no communication with the trade unions. Some will close as early as 18 August.

The people who work on the 27 sites that are either in the second phase of consultation or are being potentially bought, feel in a more vulnerable position than we do in factories that are ear-marked for closure. They have a quite justifiable fear that they will be transferred to the new employer without any choice in the matter and further down the line could face redundancy without even the pittance that is being offered now.

Remploy workers feel they have no other option but to take industrial action. The fight against closure and privatisation will be prosecuted with every ounce of determination from workers. This battle is not only for ourselves but for the thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of working-class disabled people out there who would give their eye teeth for the opportunities we have had to work for an organisation that understands our needs and requirements as disabled people – or used to, that is.

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Comments
  • kasbah July 19, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Damn right Les. I will be at the next Remploy day of action in Bridgend and I would urge as many people as possible to turn up to your nearest Remploy factory to show support on the day. the treatment of the Remploy workers is abuse pure and simple, callous greedy abuse by those in power. THEY SHALL NOT PASS.

  • jeffrey davies (@jeffrey33333) July 19, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    they dont care a monkeys arse but with more people out unemployed they got more money to give their freinds and charitys so they all keeped happy ,whilst remploy made money as the customers ahving said so but you should now torys dont like anything that the goverment runs to be owned by the state so would have them privitised likw bt elec gas which where owned and earning money for said goverment but they like everything to be owned by their mates but hold on most of big busness is owned by foriegn firms so that parts out the window ,and now they want to close remploy but it will cost more to keep these people on benefits and thats the whole dam shame that they leave them waste away without work . jeff3

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