Croespenmaen Remploy workers strike over closures
Remploy workers at Croespenmaen have gone on strike in protest at factory closures by the UK Government.
Earlier this month the factory was given a stay of execution when it was announced that it was not among the first wave of Remploy closures.
Twenty-seven Remploy factories across Britain will be closed by the UK Government which claims the £320 million budget for disabled employment services could be better spent.
The UK Government announced in March that Remploy was planning to close 36 of its 54 factories, putting more than 1,700 jobs at risk.
The Welsh Government has previously called on the UK Government to devolve responsibility for Remploy.
Although plans have been announced to find the Croespenmaen plant a buyer, workers are still facing an uncertain future.
Today’s 24-hour strike is being held jointly by the GMB and Unite unions. There is another one planned on Thursday July 26.
Phil Davies, GMB National Secretary, said: “Disabled people in Remploy have no taken likely the decision to withdraw their labour. These are workers who do not have large amounts of savings. So for them to sacrifice a day’s pay shows the passion with which they have trying to save their jobs.
“The Government is running around like a headless chicken trying to introduce separate schemes of employment support when everybody knows that the economy is in recession and sustainable employment is not available.”
Kevin Hepworth, Unite Officer said, “We have been taken aback by the massive support, not just from the trade union movement, but from the general public. We have received hundreds of email and phone calls condemning the government for dealing with the sacking of disabled workers in such a brutal way.”
Speaking from the picket line, Islwyn’s Labour MP Chris Evans said: “After working so closely with the workers of Remploy over the past few years I was delighted to stand with them side by side as they protest the Tory-led government’s callous decision.
“Some 183 disabled workers will lose their jobs while employees of plants like Croespenmaen face an uncertain future.
“Devolving the Remploy budget to the Welsh Assembly would have given proud workers determined to save their factories some sort of lifeline, however the government’s refusal means that many workers now face a bleak future.”
She said: “I want to make it clear to people that this is not about budget cuts. We have protected the £320m budget for specialist disability employment services, but by spending it more effectively we can support thousands more disabled people into work.
“That is why we are now implementing the recommendations from leading disability expert Liz Sayce to focus funding on disabled people through successful schemes like Access to Work, instead of segregated factories.
“At the moment nearly all the Remploy factories are making significant losses and last year lost a combined £70m. We have a responsibility not only to the 2,000 factory workers but also the other 6.9m disabled people of working age who could benefit from this support.”Follow @CaerphillyObsvr