THE LABOUR government is proceeding with its disgraceful closure programme of Remploy factories for disabled workers.
Twenty-eight of the 83 Remploy factories around the country are currently being stripped out and closed by the government.
Phil Davies, Secretary to the Remploy Consortium of Trade Unions has written to James Purnell, the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions about the closures.
He wrote about the situation in York: ‘Having visited the factory recently I now understand the very special needs of the disabled people who work there.
‘There are employees with severe learning difficulties who need the Remploy factory to stay open.
‘The company has put the factory up for sale; there are 3 very large “For Sale” signs which our members have to see every time they go into work.
‘This has had a devastating effect on morale.
‘The company has also acted in a most uncaring way by removing the machines and leaving the workers with nothing to do.
‘The company has informed the unions that nothing can be done, the Secretary of State has signed off the modernisation agreement and it is only the Secretary of State who can stop any particular closure.
‘With £555m pledged by the government to Remploy over the next five years, alternatives can be made and an alternative can be found to the closure of York.
‘When I visited York I was asked by a woman called Tracey: “Why, Mr Davies, will I have to lose my job, what’s going to happen to my friends?”
‘Tracey is 44 years of age and has severe learning difficulties; although she cannot understand why she will not be able to go to work, Tracey understands that the government can help her and her family.
‘Tracey was crying when she asked me these questions.
‘Her father is 75 years old and he told me that he and her mother do not know what to do about caring for Tracey.
‘The evenings and weekends are hard enough but for Tracey to lose her job at the Remploy factory will mean she will also lose her friends.
‘Mr Purnell, you can stop this particular factory from closing; you can help Tracey and her comrades at York.
‘Tracey’s story will be told because we are determined that it will be.
‘We would appreciate a reply from you as Secretary of State.’
At the Remploy factory in Efra Road, Brixton, south London, workers arrived at work yesterday to discover that the ‘Remploy’ sign has been removed and replaced by an estate agents sign saying ‘Freehold for Sale’.
Approximately 45 disabled workers are employed at the Brixton factory and face redundancy next month.
They have protested outside the factory with banners demanding that it should not close and are calling for national trade union action to stop the closures before it is too late.
Oswald, a worker at the Brixton factory and a Transport and General Workers Union member, told News Line yesterday: ‘They have removed the plant, the machinery and the tools and they are starting to remove the furniture.
‘Nobody has any work to do. We have just been told to wait for the closure on March 14.’
He told News Line that the workers there are very angry that although the consortium of Remploy unions waged a national campaign up until the Labour Party Conference in September last year, ‘since then the union leaders have left each factory to fend for itself’.
Several of the factories have balloted and carried out strike action against the closure, but the Remploy workers are demanding national action to save all Remploy jobs and factories.