WORKERS at all 54 Remploy sites, members of the GMB and Unite unions, went on strike yesterday in a bid to save 2,800 disabled workers’ jobs.
The decision to force the closure of Remploy factories means that thousands of disabled people and their families will be put into poverty and their health is bound to suffer, says the GMB.
Remploy workers will take further action from 6.00am on Thursday 26 July 2012 to 6.00am on Friday 27 July 2012, a second 24-hour strike.
Both gates of the Norwich Remploy Factory were well manned with pickets from 7.00am.
Ian Carr, the Unite steward, said: ‘We want the government and the company to get together with the unions and talk meaningfully and try and get a fair and reasonable conclusion; either fair reflective redundancy payments, or some guarantees to keep disabled people in employment within the factories. We want to see the second option.’
He added: ‘We definitely need some united action. Every union needs to get together. With the amount of force that we have in all the unions, it would definitely make a difference.’
GMB steward Harvey Cann said: ‘This is about future generations who become disabled. They need somewhere they can work. There is a bigger need for Remploy than there has ever been.
‘We don’t want to strike, but we have no choice. The government has pulled the funding from Remploy. They said they would provide money to retrain people to help them find work. It’s bad enough for people who are fit.’
There was a lively picket outside the Barking factory in east London from 7.00am.
GMB member Lee Davis told News Line: ‘It’s terrible, disgusting to close Remploy. It’s a blow to lots of people with disabilities.
‘I don’t believe the government when they say they’ll find us alternative work. If this place closes I’ll lose all my mates.
‘There has to be more action. We’re angry at the government, especially some ministers – they should be sacked, not us.’
Another picket, Steve Hayes, said: ‘I’m striking today, backing my union, because the government is throwing me out of my job and I want to save it.
‘The government keeps finding money for other things, like the Olympics, why can’t they find more money to keep Remploy open.
‘This government, and Labour, couldn’t care less – none of them are any good.
‘All the unions should back us with national action.’
The picket was joined by Dagenham and Barking Council leader, Labour councillor Liam Smith.