Campaigners fighting to save the jobs of hundreds of disabled workers at Remploy factories across the country are continuing their tour of protest.
They staged a rally in the north east of England last week.
Jarrow’s Remploy plant is one of 43 factories nationwide set to close or be merged as part of a bid to cut subsidy payouts and move disabled workers into mainstream jobs.
Workers chanted “save the Remploy factory” and “sack the board” and carried banners and placards.
More than 30 disabled workers will be transferred if the Jarrow plant is merged with its sister factory in Longbenton, North Tyneside.
The protest is part of a month of marches and meetings aimed at keeping the 43 factories open.
The Remploy consortium of unions – the GMB, Unite and Community – is touring all of the Remploy sites earmarked for closure.
The month-long tour started in Aberdeen last week and has already moved through Scotland.
It is set to reach Bournemouth on Monday 24 September, to coincide with the annual Labour Party conference.
Other Remploy workers will join the Unite union demonstration outside the conference on Sunday 23 September.
Phil Davies, the GMB’s national secretary and senior organiser for Remploy trade unions, said, “We have had a great response to the tour since we started, with good crowds along the way.
“This is drawing public attention to the Remploy fight.
“The final decision lies with the government.
“But I believe we have got a good case for saving the network of Remploy factories, and we believe the figures quoted by Remploy about subsidies are misleading.”
Rowland Precious, who suffers from five disabilities including severe breathing problems, was among more than 50 people who turned out at the Stockton factory.
The 57 year old Billingham man has worked for Remploy for over 13 years.
He said, “Most people still don’t understand why the factory is closing. There must be a mountain of work out there. It’s a lack of effort by senior management to find it.”
Unions said the Remploy factories received only £32 million worth of work out of a public procurement budget of £136 billion.
Marches and public meetings will continue to be held throughout England and Wales, including protests outside each of the threatened plants.
Bosses at a Wigan Remploy factory threatened with closure snubbed local councillors who turned up for talks aimed at saving the company.
The five-strong group from Wigan council arrived for a prearranged meeting with staff but found their way barred.
They ended up having a meeting with workers’ representatives outside the factory gates instead.