Disabled staff working at Remploy will hold two strikes this month in protest at plans by the coalition to close 54 factories, unions have said. The government has said that the Remploy system was good for its time but is not in tune with how disabled people operate in society in the 21st century.
The unions claimed that the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith – labelled by them as “the uncaring face of the coalition” – had caused workers to fight back by refusing to listen to the economic arguments and being driven purely by “right-wing dogma”.
The Unite union’s national officer Sally Kosky said: “This vote for strike action demonstrates our members’ disgust at the way they have been treated by the government’s policies, which are designed to throw them on the dole queue at a very difficult economic time. Our members are desperate to work in an environment that takes account of their disability and where they can make a valued contribution to society and pay their way.”
And the GMB union’s national officer Phil Davies said: “The government’s intention to destroy thousands of disabled workers’ jobs in Remploy has given rise to an overwhelming vote for strike action against the proposed closures of their 54 factories.
“These closures are going ahead without any consideration of the feelings and needs of these workers and their families or their future job prospects. To close a factory that employs disabled people in the present economic climate is a sentence to life of unemployment and poverty.”
The Department for Work and Pensions said: “The government would encourage the trade unions to fully engage with Remploy during the consultation process to provide the best possible support and success for disabled staff who may leave the company.”