Fury as axed #Remploy staff are told they’ll stack supermarket shelves for no pay

By Torcuil Crichton  3 Dec 2012 00:01

UNION chiefs have slammed the move and branded it as slavery after it was revealed the plan is to ensure the redundant workers keep their benefits.

Campaigners on a picket line outside a Remploy factory in Springburn


NEW benefit rules that will force disabled people to work as unpaid shelf-stackers have been condemned as modern-day slavery.

Staff made redundant by the closure of Remploy factories will be among those who will have to do the work placements – or risk losing their benefits.

The controversial mandatory placements already apply to tens of thousands of job seekers on the Government’s Work Programme who have been unemployed for more than a year.

But, from today, ill or disabled peopled deemed fit to work at some point in the future will be subject to the same rules.

That includes Remploy workers made redundant since the UK Government started to withdraw their financial support for the factories, which provided employment for long-term disabled across the country, in March.

Remploy sites in Motherwell, Aberdeen and Edinburgh have already closed – and the one in Glasgow’s Springburn will also shut after a takeover bid by a wheelchair manufacturer was controversially blocked.  

Now there are fears that the 50 staff facing redundancy in Glasgow will be forced – along with thousands of other disabled Scots – to stack shelves in supermarkets or clean private homes under the Coalition’s new programme.

Phil Brannan, the GMB union’s Springburn factory shop steward, said the rule change is the final insult to disabled people.

He said:

“First you make it more difficult for disabled people to claim any support at all, then you make them work for nothing.

“It is just slavery. When you make someone work for nothing, what else can you call it?”

Brannan added that the new rules would make it even harder for disabled people to get a job. 

Shop steward Phil Brannan outside the Remploy Springburn offices in Glasgow
Shop steward Phil Brannan outside the Remploy Springburn offices in Glasgow 


He said:

“We’ve already seen that in the charity sector. When Remploy-funded work placements are withdrawn, the jobs become redundant because organisations can’t or won’t pay the full wage.

“Now they have no incentive to employ disabled people, because they can get them for free.”

Under the Work Programme rules drawn up by the Department for Work and Pensions, disabled people will be told to take unpaid positions or risk losing up to 70 per cent of their employment support allowance.

Across the UK, 340,000 disabled people have been placed in the Work-related Activity Group. It means they must take part in programmes to help them get back to work, including training and job-hunting – and now mandatory work placements.

Campaigners say many have been wrongly placed in the group, because of serious problems with the health assessments being run by private contractors Atos.

Capability Scotland’s director of external affairs Richard Hamer said there were serious concerns about putting disabled people in work placements that might not suit them.

He said:

“Simply forcing people into any job without proper consideration of their disability and individual needs is a recipe for failure.

“The fact that people face losing their benefits if they refuse to take a job will be of real concern to many disabled Scots, including those affected by the Remploy closures, at a time when they are already feeling vulnerable due to the UK Government’s welfare cuts.”

Hamer said the Con-Dems should instead address the barriers faced by disabled people who can and want to work by creating “long-term, sustainable job opportunities”.

Anne McGuire MP, Labour’s shadow minister for the disabled, said:

“We’ve always been clear that the mandatory work placements are not useful.

“Every individual has to be treated according to their circumstances and asking disabled people, or sick people who are still receiving treatment, to go into work placements with a threat to their benefits is unacceptable.”

The Scottish Daily Record

See also:

Sick and disabled braced for enforced work-for-benefits programme

Cancer-stricken ex-RAF pilot becomes victim of benefits cuts

Axed Remploy worker reveals his battle to retain dignity

11 thoughts on “Fury as axed #Remploy staff are told they’ll stack supermarket shelves for no pay

  1. terminator says:

    If a company need people to stack shelves then they should be employing them and paying them a wage not getting them for free from a JCP scam

  2. jeffery davies says:

    why its whot the torys wanted sell off the best parts make some money and get their mates involved in making money from it but to the workers its working for free and they could even be in a forestry helping out so its a tory thing slaves with no money jeff3

  3. Jan Tchamani says:

    This is the worst example of social engineering I’ve come across this year. It shows the worst kind of disrespect for people with disabilities and smacks of labour camp mentality.

  4. Humanity2012 says:

    Slavery is Forced Labour Under the Threat of Punishment

    Therefore Sanctions Need to be Scrapped and People Not Exploited as Slave Labour

  5. sam dawson says:

    Dirty britian, at least prin princ will be able to cliam child benefit , theres no dout about it we live a lovly country

  6. mandm says:

    well here we REALLY go the real ,and now not hidden ,agenda of these Tory bastards.This is one step away from nazi politics and i dont care if people do not agree on that score …wait until its your turn and it will be sooner or later.Child benefit,working tax credit…dont work enough hours…f****ck you get some more or lose what we give you….peasant..THAT is what they think of all of us.
    When it comes to it they can stick there fucking workfare and as i wont be able to claim any money as my wife works and as my NI credits have the full amount already in they can kiss my arse cos i for one wont do it.
    PAY ME yes fair enough but threaten me fuck you NO and if only we were all in a position to say that then they would be fucked and they will be come the next election.DONT dare vote for any of these people ever again……..and some must have for them to get in so NO votes for slavery purveyors .
    When are we ALL going to march to downing street and say f****ck off once and for all loud enough so they here us all in thier tax payer funded second homes …..ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

  7. Humanity2012 says:

    This Country will be More Lovely and Less of a Hellhole with the Repeal of ALL the
    Harm and Rubbish Inflicted upon the Poor and Vulnerable by the Con Dem Regime

    We Need a End to the Townie Trance Sleepwalk of Far too Many who take an
    Ignorant ” I AM ALL Right Jack ” Mentality

  8. K Peake says:

    The illiterate, extreme right press brought this cruel farce about with their illiterate, extreme right chums in Whitehall and an organised, ongoing stigmatising campaign we all continue to suffer with. More worryingly, until recently they had virtually the whole left / civilised world on board too.

    As a result of this campaign to make people ashamed of themselves and their will to survive, many harmless, sensitive, disadvantaged people do indeed choose to starve and die not appreciating that they are laying down their lives for the least honest and honourable of all UK citizens.

    50% of senior, decision-making roles in the UK are reserved for the privately and expensively educated 7%. More than half the Cabinet and at least half of editors have no qualms whatsoever about benefitting very nicely indeed from this corrupt, cushy arrangement or about making life more difficult for the 93% forced to find an income legitimately.

    Sign the petition to keep propaganda, misinformation and hatred under control.


    If you’re a disabled person looking for work you need to seek out employers who are “Positive About Disabled People”, a scheme explained here: https://www.gov.uk/looking-for-work-if-youre-disabled/looking-for-a-job

    Here is the full, national list of employers signed up to the scheme who will be willing to accommodate you with your needs. You may wish to avoid the government departments on the list which leaves about 150 employers nationally including 7 in Northumbria. Good luck.


  9. Linda says:

    A person needs to be really fit to stack supermarket shelves. It’s extremely hard work. It nearly killed a relative of mine.

  10. Graham Askew says:

    Potential exploiters shld be warned of possible fainting, vomiting, incontinence, anything which wd compromise Health & Safety, & raise insurance risk.

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