Duncan Smith throws insults at Remploy workers

Pat Atkinson, Unite LE 1111 branch

Tory Work and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has claimed that disabled Remploy workers are “not doing any work… just making cups of coffee”. He wants to shut 36 factories across the country – axing 1,518 jobs – to save money and get more people into “proper jobs”.

I recently attended a Remploy employees campaign meeting in London. 40 people from various unions, were there.

Speakers explained how Remploy had been run down by all governments. There were details about the top heavy management and the under-valuing of staff, who are being refused good quality training to do new work. Remploy workers are proud of doing “proper jobs” – skilled work, producing products and equipment for use in education, the health service and elsewhere.

But an example was given of the local DWP using the Remploy factory for work experience for young people, while Remploy management were not replacing staff who retired or left the run-down site.

The national charities who had lined up with the previous New Labour government and now the Con-Dems to do reports in favour of closure of the factories were condemned. A word of caution was raised at any future joint activity with these organisations as they tend to be anti-trade union in practice.

I pledged the support of my Unite branch and demanded increased investment for Remploy, and an increase in working opportunities for the wider disability community.

All a government spokesperson could say in response to the anger at Duncan Smith’s statement was that the best way to help disabled people into work was “not to hide them away in factories”. So they just want to close the factories and hide the workers in dole queues instead.