One year on . . . Remploy workers remain jobless!

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Remploy lobby of the TUC demanding no factories closures. 51 have been closed
Remploy lobby of the TUC demanding no factories closures. 51 have been closed

A GMB union survey has found that the majority of Remploy workers did not get another job, one year on from the last of 51 factory closures.

Disabled charities aided and abetted the government, so that a huge percentage of those made redundant now sit at home depressed and isolated from any forms of social interaction or inclusion, says the GMB.

The GMB, the union for ex-Remploy staff, commented on the first anniversary of the closure of the last of the 51 out of 54 Remploy factories that shut down.

Remploy had 54 factories in England, Scotland and Wales.

The GMB conducted a survey of ex-Remploy workers earlier this year. Only one in four was employed and most were working shorter hours and on less pay.

Jerry Nelson, GMB National Officer said: ‘It is now one year since the final day of the Remploy factory closures. Over 2,700 disabled workers had their lives destroyed by this government’s callous and thoughtless attack on the disabled workers, workers who relied on their employment to maintain their sense of independence working in an environment of protected equality.

‘The factories were a sheltered environment and for many of these workers it was their only connection with life outside of their own homes.

‘What people need to remember is that not one single disabled worker within the factories was asked how they would feel about the closures.

‘We should know better than to expect that the thoughts or feelings of any worker could ever be considered by a right-wing coalition government whose only aim is to feed the rich and greedy by bending the rules and taxation policies to benefit their kind.

‘Disabled workers had their lives destroyed for what? – so the top rate of tax could be cut from 50% to 45% giving all the Conservatives and their friends another £50,000 a year in their pockets on every million pounds they earn.

‘Is this everyone sharing the burden of austerity? We have a huge percentage of those members made redundant sat at home depressed and isolated from any forms of social interaction or inclusion.

‘These are not there by choice.

‘Unfortunately in many areas, the economic climate is still depressed so there are not the jobs out there for able-bodied workers, so what chance for a worker with severe learning or physical disabilities?

‘We will never forget or forgive this atrocious attack on the most vulnerable members of this union by this government.

‘They used the Sayce Report and RADAR, Mind, Mencap, Scope, RNID and Leonard Cheshire as “Trojan horses” to close the Remploy factories.

‘RADAR characterised Remploy as some out-of-date solution, stigmatising it as a form of ghettoisation.

‘These organisations started with an aspiration we all share, where all disabled people are treated in an equal way in employment and that ideal state may lead to a completely different view of what support is required.

‘This is the outcome when disabled charities made “the best” the enemy of the “good”. They started with resolutions that will not be achieved in the short run.

‘They were then pickled into a rigid dogma, a code, and they went through the years sticking to that, ignoring real needs, and they end in the grotesque chaos of disabled charities – disabled charities – used as Trojan horses to sack disabled workers in 51 locations across the UK.

‘The Tories knew what they were doing using these “useful idiots” who were party to this attack on disabled workers. GMB will never forget the role of RADAR, Mind, Mencap, Scope, RNID and Leonard Cheshire.’

The GMB quoted some of the comments made by survey respondents:

‘Jobcentre or Remploy were no help despite all the promises; my friend got me this job.’

‘This TUPE is a shambles.’

‘I only got this job through my brother-in-law who created this job for me.’

‘Just had the one job since leaving Remploy – who cares? Not the government.’

‘TUPE’d over; worse employer; been shafted.’

‘Worked in a charity shop for five month.’

‘I have not worked since I left Remploy. I had an accident when I was pregnant and wish disabled people could have Remploy back.’

‘One job lasted one day; it was run badly.’

‘I have only been able to find voluntary work one day per week at cancer research.’

‘No job since been made redundant in 2008; signed on for six months; the man who was dealing with me was moved to Exeter and was not replaced and I was given no support.’

‘No job, no help, no hope.’

‘Not worked since 2008.’

‘Worked as a volunteer in charity shop one day a week.’

‘Bring back Remploy.’

‘No job, no interview.’

‘Tried to look for work and no job; went to college and then still no work so decided to retire.’

• The GMB held a protest demonstration in Aberdeen on Thursday, 30th October, to shame Kevin Gorman for his part in blacklisting 271 construction workers when employed in the construction industry.

He is now employed in Aberdeen in a Human Resources (HR) role in North Sea Oil support industry.

Blacklisting came to light when in 2009 the ICO seized the Consulting Association (TCA) database, run by Ian Kerr, of 3,213 construction workers and environmental activists used by 44 companies to vet new recruits and keep out of employment trade union and health and safety activists.

Kevin Gorman, Crown House Engineering, is currently Vice President Human Resources, Harkand Group in Aberdeen.

He was named by Alan Wainwright in evidence to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee as a link with TCA at Crown House Engineering where he was the Human Resources Manager.

He has yet to come clean and apologise for his part in the hurt and damage caused by Carillion who overall were involved in blacklisting 271 workers.

This was the sixth date in a national ‘Crocodile Tears’ protest tour to shame 63 construction industry managers named as blacklisters who have yet to come clean and apologise for their actions.

The next dates are Reading University on 4th November and London SW1 on 5th November.

Thursday’s protest was held outside Harkand Group office, Ocean Spirit House, 33 Waterloo Quay, Aberdeen. There was a person in a crocodile suit accompanied by union members with flags and banners and slogans: ‘Nuremberg defence on blacklisting won’t wash’ and ‘Blacklisters come clean’.

Kevin Gorman (KG) was Liz Keates’ superior at Crown House Engineering where he was the Human Resources Manager.

His current employer Harkand is a company involved with subsea inspection, repair and maintenance, light construction, construction support and survey services to the offshore oil, gas and renewable energy sectors.

He was previously Human Resources Manager for Bristow Helicopters, a company that transports people and materials to and from oil and gas rigs.

On October 16th, there was a hearing in the High Court on compensation for 122 GMB members blacklisted by Carillion and other construction employers on claims served in November 2013.

GMB’s claims were joined with a further 449 claims by other unions and parties at a High Court hearing in July 2014. The next hearing is 17th December.

Harry Donaldson, Secretary GMB Scotland, said: ‘These so-called HR Professionals who ran the blacklists for the construction companies knew exactly what they were doing and they need to either apologise, come clean and say what they did, or get used to accounting in public for the damage they did to those they blacklisted and their families, especially with the Public Inquiry Labour has pledged after the next election.’