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From The Socialist newspaper, 29 August 2012

Paralympics, Atos scandal, Remploy closures... Con-Dems win gold for hypocrisy!

Les Woodward, national convenor, Remploy trade union consortium
2012 Summer Paralympics

2012 Summer Paralympics

Millions are watching the 2012 Paralympics. The Games aim to inspire young disabled people to take up sport, compete at the highest level and illustrate to the world that having a disability doesn't mean that a full, active and challenging life cannot be lived.

The ethos that despite being disabled, a person should be able to fulfil their own potential, through holding down a job and being a productive member of society, was also the ethos that eventually led to the setting up of the first Remploy factory in 1946.

Remploy workers protest at the closure of Remploy factories on the first day of the 2012 Paralympics in London

Remploy workers protest at the closure of Remploy factories on the first day of the 2012 Paralympics in London   (Click to enlarge)

The forerunner of the Paralympics started in 1948 in Stoke Mandeville Hospital as a way of using sporting competition as a form of healing and therapy for disabled ex-service personnel, many of whom were recovering from injuries suffered in World War Two.

2012 will be a memorable year for disabled people who will be part of the Paralympics, either as spectators or participants. It will also be a memorable year for the disabled workers of Remploy, but the memories will be poles apart.

UK Uncut and Disabled People against Cuts protest against ATOS, the Paralympics Sponsors, in Hartshead Square ,Sheffield, photo Alistair Tice

UK Uncut and Disabled People against Cuts protest against ATOS, the Paralympics Sponsors, in Hartshead Square ,Sheffield, photo Alistair Tice   (Click to enlarge)

The disabled athletes, their families and fans, will have joy and excitement. They will look back on 2012 as the year they came to the Games, and left with souvenirs and full photograph albums to record every joyous second.

The disabled Remploy workers and their able-bodied comrades, however, will have bad memories. Their factories, which have provided good quality employment for the best part of 70 years, will shut their gates for the last time. They will head, not for gold but for the dole and a life of poverty and deprivation as they get dumped on the scrapheap.

This will be then vastly exacerbated by the Con-Dems' cold cruelty: with benefits slashed and denied financial and other support to live independently, disabled people are also being demonised as "scroungers", and abuse towards them is rocketing.

In the Con-Dems' arrogance, brought about by the 'Born to Rule' attitude that they have all grown up with, they have ignored the big questions that will be on every working class disabled person's lips, especially if they are ex-Remploy workers or victims of Atos, sickeningly one of the prime sponsors of the Olympics and Paralympics.

London Olympics, photo Alison Hill

London Olympics, photo Alison Hill   (Click to enlarge)

Why is it that disabled people are encouraged to compete on the field of sport, partake as competitors in activities from which able bodied athletes are segregated, while being employed in a workplace alongside other disabled people in a supported environment is not acceptable? The government, some charities and, to their shame, some trade unions seem to find having fun together acceptable, but not working together.

Why should disabled people have to suffer the stress of the 'work capability' assessment administered by Atos? The sole aim of this cruel process seems to be to push as many people as possible off sickness benefits, as part of the 18 billion welfare cuts.

No Remploy closures. The factories should be run for disabled people, by disabled people, where people with all forms of disability can fulfil their employment potential in the short, medium and long term.

Fight all welfare cuts. Kick Atos out of the system. End the work capability assessment. A living wage and fulfilling work opportunities for all without compulsion.


Fight all cuts!

Mark Serwotka, General Secretary, PCS, photo Suzanne Beishon

Mark Serwotka, General Secretary, PCS, photo Suzanne Beishon

"The TUC march on 20 October will be a massive display of unity. We need to ensure we use this to continue to build the fight against the cuts, and not only march together but strike together as well."

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union

Hear Mark speak at the National Shop Stewards Network lobby of the TUC on 9 September. Demand the TUC uses the 20 October demonstration to build for a 24-hour general strike against the government's austerity measures.

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In The Socialist 29 August 2012:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Paralympics, Atos scandal, Remploy closures... Con-Dems win gold for hypocrisy!

Build for a 24-hour general strike!

The Julian Assange case

Galloway's ignorant comments

Gove stole our exam grades!

Crisis services handed over to charity food banks

Them & Us


Socialist Party workplace news

Building workers fight pay cut threat

Sparks protest at London Crown House site

Local government pension scheme

Sheffield recycling workers to resume strike action


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

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Jobs and homes, not racism

East Midlands: Save our ambulance service

NHS: Unions must defend national pay bargaining

TUSC councillor rejects Walsall cuts 'consultation'


Prisons

Prison work - 3 a day is exploitation for profit

Women's prisons - Con-Dems' 'reforms' mean cuts and privatisation


International socialist news and analysis

Norway: Mass murderer Anders Breivik gets life sentence

Kazakhstan: Human rights campaigner Vadim Kuramshin freed


Reviews and comments

Leon Trotsky: A revolutionary's life

Fight council tax benefit cuts

The 'madness' of building homes


Socialist Party news

Notting Hill carnival-goers support Lonmin miners

Socialist Party summer camp

Why I joined the Socialist Party

Save our computer server!


 

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