After months of false promises from the Labour government, Remploy factories for disabled workers are closing around the country.
Some 1,600 disabled workers are losing their jobs at 28 sites. Remploy is also pushing through an extra 650 redundancies from factories that aren’t closing.
Workers are accusing the Labour government of a “shameful and gross betrayal”.
Two weeks ago at the Labour party spring conference Gordon Brown promised Remploy workers he would “revisit” the issue. Since then there has been silence.
Phil Davies, a national official for the GMB union, who has ripped up his Labour party card in disgust, told Socialist Worker, “There is a lot of anger and bitterness at the cruel way Labour has given up on these people.
“This has caused very bad blood between the government and unions. We have never seen workers treated in such a despicable way.”
“These workers have been betrayed by the Labour government and the Labour Party and we will not forget it.”
Workers in Liverpool and York struck last month against the closures. In York workers held a blockade to prevent equipment being removed from the factory.
Last Friday the gates at both were closed for the last time.
David Reed worked at the furniture factory in Aintree, near Liverpool. He told Socialist Worker, “Everyone was very upset. We have a lot of people with severe learning difficulties and they were bewildered, trying to understand what was happening.”
GMB senior steward Paul Bragg has spent 19 years at the Birkenhead Central Cutting Unit. “I could probably find another job,” he said, “but many of my friends would not find it so easy.”
In a number of factories workers even put forward proposals to run the factories as cooperatives, but were ruthlessly turned down.
One of the factories closing is at Treforest in south Wales. Ieuan Boyle said he and his colleagues were “devastated”.
“We have got people in there crying now,” he told Socialist Worker.
“We feel let down by Remploy and especially by the government, which is supposed to be a caring Labour government.”
The Remploy workers have carried out a brave campaign to save jobs.
They were promised much from the Labour government but they received nothing but lies and contempt.
Editorial » More broken promises over Remploy