Work and Pensions Secretary Peter Hain found time out from forgetting to declare political donations to axe disabled workers’ jobs in Remploy last week.
Hain’s announcement confirmed that 28 of Remploy’s 83 sites are to close, with the loss of about 2,000 jobs. The announcement was met with fury. Across the country Remploy workers stormed out of the factory sites in a show of solidarity.
John Wilson, assistant shop steward for the GMB union in York, said, “This is a despicable, disgraceful decision and we feel utterly betrayed.
“We believe procurement is viable and compared to what was spent on rescuing Northern Rock, we’re talking about peanuts being spent to see if it would work.
“The way the closure of the Remploy factory in York has been dealt with is shoddy to say the least. It could be a centre for people to learn and train. We don’t see why it has to close. Our argument is that Remploy is not just for the people who are here now, it is for the future.
“People have been in tears after hearing this news and I can assure the government that we’re going to fight – we’re not taking it lying down. There will be militant action taken over the next few days, and while I can’t say what it will be, we are going to shame and embarrass this government.
“They started the war and now we are going to finish it.”
GMB branch secretary for the North East, Kenneth Stubbs, who is based at a plant which is not going to be closed said, “This leaves us bitterly angry at the way we have constantly been failed and let down by both Remploy and the Government.
“We are solidly united in our fight which goes on.
“A one hour mass walkout of disabled workers in Remploy factories right across the north east took place, including at those factories that will stay open, to demonstrate our solidarity to save the Remploy factories. Our fightback starts now and this time the gloves are off.”
Paul Bragg from Merseyside, said, “We have a highly skilled workforce and if we lose those skills they will be gone forever.”
He added that many of the workers held up banners outside the factory and drivers beeped their horns in encouragement as they passed by.
The unions fighting to defend Remploy ran a high profile campaign based on putting pressure on the Labour government to intervene.
The problem is that the government have broken yet another promise and instead intervened to do management’s dirty work for them.
There needs to be strike action and a massive show of solidarity from the rest of the union movement to keep the factories open.