Disabled workers to stage strikes
Disabled workers are to stage two 24-hour strikes in protest at plans to close their factories.
Members of the GMB and Unite unions in Remploy sites across the UK will walk out on July 19 and 26 to express their "disgust" at the Government's plans. The workers have voted in favour of industrial action as part of a campaign to stop any of the 54 factories closing.
Unite 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.
"Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith - the uncaring face of the coalition - has provoked this strike at Remploy by refusing to listen to the economic arguments. His decision is based on right-wing dogma. 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."
Phil Davies, national officer of the GMB, 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 union campaign followed news that 36 Remploy sites are to close or be sold off in the near future, with the remaining 18 due to close or be sold-off next year.
Union officials believe 2,500 jobs will be lost through the closures, warning that most of the disabled workers will never work again.
The Government believes money saved from the closures should be used to support individual workers, rather than subsidising factories. The move followed an independent review by Liz Sayce, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, into the Government's disability employment budget.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman 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."