Remploy workers step up the campaign- solid strike today

New action planned for August 6th

Remploy Abertillery picket line

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See reports from picket lines in England here

Pickets were out at eight Remploy plants in Wales today (Croespenmaen was on a routine close down) as workers struck against the immediate closure of 27 plants (five in Wales) plus threats of closure to the rest. The Con Dems government is trying to destroy Remploy as a public sector industry that provides meaningful and useful employment to disabled workers.

Porth

At least thirty picketed the Remploy factory in Porth this morning, and only one manager crossed the line on the day.

The workers at the factory are determined to fight to keep the plant open, especially as many pointed out that if it was run efficiently and democratically then it could make a profit. One striker argued that "Remploy should be run by disabled workers for disabled workers.".

The Porth factory is part of "Phase Two" of the government's plan to rip apart and destroy Remploy, meaning private companies will sack workers and asset strip the factory in the rampant search for profits.

The government won't only be closing a socially useful factory that provides data erasing and electronic equipment recycling, but also closing down a community. Porth is a small town in the valleys with high unemployment that depends on the factory to boost the local economy.

It's not only the community of Porth that is under threat if this government isn't beaten, Amanda a Remploy worker told us that "workers often have breakfast, lunch and dinner at the factory. People have been working here over forty years." That's forty years of friendships and hard work wiped out in an instant if we don't save this factory.

Socialist party members, Youth fight for job activists and Cardiff Trades Council members where all out in force to support the strike.

Many workers agreed with the demand raised by Socialist Party Members that the Welsh government should cover the cost of keeping the factories open, much in the same way that they have done with Cardiff airport.

It must also be pointed out that the strikers had very little faith in the Labour Party as it was the last government that had started the ball rolling in terms of cutting Remploy funding and factories.

Abertillery

A great mood in Abertillery again (pictured above). The new strike date on August 6th has gone down well, and morale is high despite the anger at the government's plans.

GMB rep, Mandy Webb, pointed out one of the problems facing the survival of the plant: the mismanagement of the factory, "We haven't had a sales campaign for years". If the Remploy board was serious about developing the company work could easily be found to keep the order books full.

Swansea

Another solid strike at the Swansea Remploy factory today with two thirds of the fifty strong workforce on the picket line and around a dozen or so supporters including a delegation from the Visteon pensioners’ campaign.

The anger against the government and Remploy management was greater than ever considering that the workers in Swansea are seeing orders being turned away while they are being forced to sit in the canteen all day doing nothing!

The demand for the Wales Government to take over the running of the 9 Welsh plants instead of handing over £10million to prospective employers as a temporary subsidy went down well with the workers but none of them had any confidence whatsoever that such a proposal would be taken seriously by AM's.

Merthyr

Remploy Merthyr picket line

The mood on the Merthyr Remploy picket line remained strong on the second national strike day. The headmistress of a local comprehensive had offered one of the pickets a job as the school caretaker. He'd turned it down.

"I don't want a job on my own," he said, seizing the head of another picket in an arm lock. "It's not me. What would I do without my butties?" The pickets looked at each other. They knew exactly what he meant.

The feeling is that if these jobs go, there are no other proper jobs to go to in Merthyr. The pickets told The Socialist what had happened at the packaging plant just down from the Remploy factory a few days ago. The boss told the workforce, ""t's a nice day, production is up. Take the afternoon off." When they came to work in the morning, all the machines were gone. Another plant on the estate that makes metal parts went down to three days this week.

"Yes" said a picket, looking at his placard. "But it's different in those places. They don't have a union."

Bridgend

There was another good turnout at Bridgend and pickets made Youth Fight For Jobs activist, Emma Griffiths, very welcome.

As they all downed plenty of tea and coffee pickets explained that the factory was like a family that look after each other. Some workers would be picked on in other workplaces but are supported in Remploy. One of the companies bidding to take over Bridgend Remploy is privateering company G4S who also run nearby Parc Prison and want to use prison inmates to take over the contracts to make parts for Fords.

Aberdare

There were over 20 on the picket line at Aberdare with local politicians due to join the line later this morning. Retired members made point of coming to support the existing workforce.

Croespenmaen

Croespenmaen plant is on a routine shut down this week.

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