With the shutting down of the Remploy factory in Poole, now only 18 Remploy factories remain in the UK. It was announced in July that 27 factories would be closed leaving hundreds out of work across the UK, including the physically disabled.
Yet some still fight for those made redundant such as GMB, the third biggest union in the UK . The GMB has fought for the last 16 years to keep Remploy factories open.
GMB Representative for Southeast UK, Les Woodward said “The GMB believes that as a nation if we cannot support disabled workers in struggle then we ourselves don’t deserve support in other struggles.”
GMB is not the only union supporting the Remploy employee’s, Unite union’s regional secretary of the South East Regional Centre John Rowse said they “are willing to fight for Remploy tooth and nail.”
The union recognises the value of Remploy as a support company for disabled people and to the UK. GMB’s Regional Secretary Phil Davies said that “The GMB thinks the closure of Remploy Poole is absolutely abhorrent, just the same as all the factory closures.” He also found the sacking of disabled people strange because “the money that Remploy receive from the Government is for employing disabled people”
However Remploy’s Head of Communications, David Felton said in 2006 the Government commissioned a report into Remploy. The report offered three alternatives to closing the factories on the understanding that Remploy did not offer value for money in respect of employing disabled people. The figures that were discussed at the time were £22k per Remploy employee compared to around £4K to support a disabled worker in mainstream industry. The GMB disputed those figures as the high cost of factory based employment were incredibly inflated by the high organisational costs of running Remploy.
Remploy’s Press Representative Rebecca Hall said “The three recommendations were to do nothing which they did not think was an option, to close 54 factories or to close all 83”[one_half]
The GMB’s position according to Mr. Woodward was that “This report has led to the closing of Remploy factories and the throwing of thousands of disabled people onto the scrapheap”.
The GMB’s stance is that they will continue to fight, either through the political process e.g. activity from MPS on our behalf or the Industrial process by continuing negotiations with the Company.[/one_half_last]