The Socialist 19 October 2011
Fighting for our future
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Support Remploy workers
The Remploy factories, which employ thousands of people with disabilities, are threatened with closure. Many, including some charities, try to argue that Remploy factories somehow confine those workers to a "ghetto".
But Les Woodward, GMB union convenor and one of the leaders of the campaign to save the factories, refutes this: "Remploy workers do not work in ghettoes, neither are we institutionalised. The fact that we choose to work with other disabled people is our choice. We were not forced into Remploy and we will not be forced out.
"Closing the factories would see 2,800 people added to the benefit claimant list. In 2008, 2,500 people lost their jobs in Remploy.
"In 2009 the GMB surveyed those members who had left and found that most of those workers were living on benefits or were in jobs with poorer pay and conditions.
"The results vindicate the Remploy trade union position that keeping Remploy factories open and supporting them by providing meaningful work through public procurement is a better solution for disabled people than closing them down and putting people onto benefit."
Save our jobs, save Remploy factories
On 14 October, over 40 workers from the Remploy factories in Porth, Abertillery and Aberdare attended a public meeting along with 20 of their supporters to build the campaign to fight the Con-Dem government's closure programme.
In a lively meeting, Remploy workers spoke from the floor and showed their anger and their determination to fight. "They'll never get me to accept redundancy," said Jeff Hollinshead, plant convenor. "We don't own these jobs. They aren't ours to sell; we are just looking after them for those who come after us."
One worker said: "For a lot of people in this factory, this is more than just a job. It's their whole social life. Without this factory, they'd be lost."
Another explained that 95% of the 2,000 Remploy workers who lost their jobs in 2008 are still out of work. He said: "They want to replace a £21,000 a year job with a few hours stacking shelves in ASDA - and that would be for the lucky ones."
Les Woodward, Remploy national trade union convenor, is based at the Swansea plant.
Les welcomed suggestions that the Welsh government could put procurement work into the Remploy factories.
But he warned against any attempts to save the eight plants in Wales by sacrificing the other 46. "We can win this fight," he said, "but we need unity to do that."
Socialist Party members intend to build support through the anti-cuts campaigns and the NSSN. They will discuss with members of PCS, Unison, the RMT and other unions the potential for campaigning for procurement in their sectors to go to Remploy plants.
On 30 November, Remploy workers will be on the trade union demonstrations and all trade unionists need to give them their support.
In this issue
Socialist Party news and analysis
What we think
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review