Remploy workers vote for strike action to stop Tory closure plan

Big majority for action to defend factories

Remploy on the Hardest Hit march

Members of GMB and Unite employed by Remploy in 54 factories across the country have voted by an overwhelming majority to take part in strikes and other industrial action to protest against the closure of the factories and disabled workers being forced in to unemployment. The trade union side in Remploy will give 7 days notice with immediate effect for a programme of strikes and other action.

The majority for strike action was 79.5% of the vote in the GMB. The majority for action short of a strike was 87.3% in GMB. The figures for Unite are 59.7% in favour of strike action and 76.1% in favour of action short of a strike.

The Con Dem government announced on 7th March the closure of 36 of the 54 remaining Remploy sites with compulsory redundancy for 1,752 people of whom 1,518 of these are disabled. The Welsh factories earmarked for closure in the first wave are as follows: Aberdare, Abertillery, Bridgend, Croespenmaen, Merthyr Tydfil, Swansea and Wrexham.

But the Con Dems envisage the complete closure of all 54 factories in due course leading to 2,800 disabled workers jobs being lost. The Porth factory in the Rhondda would eventually be closed. A 90 day consultation period was due to end last month (June) but it has been extended.

Phil Davies GMB National Secretary 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."

Les Woodward, national convenor of REMPLOY, explained at the Wales Shop Stewards Network conference that the a vote for action would lead to stepping up of the campaign to defend the factories. He explained how he discovered why they had been picked on: it is because "there is not one hedge-fund manager amongst them, not one, venture capitalist, not one banker and as far as I am aware not one of them has been found guilty of dirty dealing in the financial sector. If they were then the government would have bailed them out".

Katrine Williams Chair of the Wales Shop Stewards Network pledged the WSSN's support for strike action at Remploy: "All workers and the entire trade union movemement should rally around the Remploy workers when they strike." She called on all trade unionists in Wales to attend the Remploy picket lines in solidarity on the first strike day.

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