The GMB trade union is holding a demonstration in Sheffield and a rally in Wakefield today, to defend 4,000 Remploy jobs.
The GMB warned yesterday that 54 Remploy factories are under threat of closure if the government stops public funding in April 2013 ,and if these proposals go ahead 4,000 workers will loose their jobs.
GMB members at Remploy are today presenting senior officials at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in Sheffield with over 1,000 applications from Remploy disabled employees to attend the DWP consultation meetings on the proposed closure of the 54 Remploy factories where they work.
After handing in the names, the GMB intends to demonstrate outside the DWP in Sheffield from 10am to 11.00am, followed by a Rally in Wakefield Town Hall at 1.00pm.
The GMB added: ‘Remploy workers want to attend the six consultation meetings set up by DWP which will take place between September 12th to 21st.
‘The aim of these meetings is to consult Remploy workers on government proposals to end public funding for Remploy factories in April 2013, and on the privatisation of the employment services provided by Remploy.
‘All Remploy workers are encouraged to take part in these events. For no good reason, space is limited. Remploy managers plan to draw names out of a hat to select which disabled workers can attend.’
Phil Davies, GMB National Secretary said: ‘The DWP and government are trying to prevent Remploy disabled workers from attending these consultation meetings.
‘The Minister, Maria Miller, gave the GMB and the other trade unions an understanding that every disabled person in Remploy would be consulted.
‘The DWP is proposing to draw a limited number of people’s names out of a hat. This makes a nonsense of the undertaking that was given.
‘Remploy workers want to tell DWP that closing Remploy is the aim of conflicted axe grinders who want the funding for themselves.
‘Another threat is that the factories are rendered less economic being only 50 per cent loaded because either public bodies have failed to support them with work, as allowed under EU rules, or their own managers are turning down work.
‘The DWP will be told that it would cost the Treasury less to keep the factories operating fully loaded rather than putting the workers out of work on welfare. The majority of Remploy workers who lost their jobs in 2008 are still on welfare three years later.
‘The crucial campaign objective for Remploy workers is to get the loading up from 50 per cent now to 100 per cent and to keep these factories open.
‘These factories have a successful track record going back to 1946 till the public authorities stopped loading them with work in the 1990s due to a then EU directive.
‘The EU rules have been changed and the factories can be successful again when they are fully loaded. Making uniforms for the armed forces, emergency services and medical staff, and supplying schools would more than keep them busy.’