Ministers slash Remploy
WORKERS, APR 2008 ISSUE
The campaign by the GMB to preserve the Remploy factories looks to have been derailed by the government. The 83 Remploy factories, established after the Second World War and originally employing disabled service men and women, latterly disabled workers, has been sidetracked and buried by callous government tactics. Over 2,500 disabled workers will be made redundant. Twenty-eight factories will close.
The concept of having workplaces which bring disabled workers back into skilled mainstream employment has been destroyed in the name of modernisation. The GMB ran a high-profile lobby campaign throughout 2007 to protest against the closures. This resulted in significant trade union and especially TUC support for the fight against closure at last year's Congress.
To fudge and avoid the issue at the Labour Party conference, Gordon Brown promised a "review": a retired trade union "elder" was appointed to investigate independently. That report has now produced the final blow to Remploy's future – closure.
The false modernisation argument that greater numbers of disabled workers can be slotted into "employment" as opposed to the skilled employment offered by Remploy has been the government's justification for closure. The issue is not about numbers but economics, it is obviously cheaper to have disabled workers working stacking supermarket shelves than learning a skill and making a qualitative difference to society and their own lives.