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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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News: Disabled Remploy workers to strike over 2,800 proposed job cuts


Disabled workers are to stage two 24-hour strikes in protest at plans to close 36 of the 54 Remploy factories that employ them, leading to 2,800 job losses.

Members of the GMB and Unite unions will walk out on Thursday 19 and 26 July to express their “disgust” at the coalition government’s proposals to axe the first tranche of factories by the end of this year in a bid to cut costs. S
The remaining 18 are due to be closed or sold off next year, after being established 66 years ago as part of the creation of the welfare state in order to employ disabled workers in making everything from furniture to packaging.
Unite’s national officer Sally Kosky told the Press Association that work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who she described as “the uncaring face of the coalition”, had provoked the industrial action by refusing to listen to workers’ economic arguments.
“His decision is based on right-wing dogma. Our members are desperate to work in an environment that takes account of their disability and where they can make a valued contribution to society and pay their way,” she said.
Phil Davies, the GMB’s national officer, agreed. “These closures are going ahead without any consideration of the feelings and needs of these workers and their families or their future job prospects,” he said. “To close a factory that employs disabled people in the present economic climate is a sentence to a life of unemployment and poverty.”
But the government attested that the money saved by the closures could be better spent on supporting individual workers. Its move follows a review of the situation by Liz Sayce, chief executive of charity Disability Rights UK, into the best way to spend the £320 million disability employment budget.
A department for work and pensions spokesman said: “The government would encourage the trade unions to fully engage with Remploy during the consultation process to provide the best possible support and success for disabled staff who may leave the company.”
***In news elsewhere, the government has pledged to broaden out its Access to Work scheme. The scheme boasts a £100 million pot to help disabled people get into mainstream employment by providing specially-adapted equipment, support workers and interpreters.
While it only used to be available to people who were in paid work, those undertaking work experience placements will now also be covered. This means that more young disabled people should be able to get onto one of the 100,000 places being offered by the government each year to help boost skills levels.
Author Profile Picture
Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett

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