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Remploy workers join national strike against factory closure

PUBLISHED: 14:12 10 July 2012

Tony Smales at work at Barking Remploy

Tony Smales at work at Barking Remploy

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Disabled workers are to stage two 24-hour strikes next week in protest at government plans to shut down their factory.

Around 50 employees from the Barking Remploy factory, in Longreach Road, which employs people from Havering, will join the national strike after members of the unions Unite and GMB voted for industrial action.

Both unions represent around 2,800 disabled workers around the country whose jobs are on the line if the government goes ahead with plans to close or sell off its 54 Remploy factories.

Unite members voted 60 per cent in favour of strike action, while GMB members voted 80 per cent in favour.

The strikes are to be held in protest at plans to make compulsory redundancies for the first time at Remploy.

Unions are also angry that redundancy pay packages will be smaller than previous voluntary redundancy schemes.

Remploy staff will stage the strikes on July 19 and July 26. A continuous overtime ban is due to start on Wednesday (July 12).

Unite’s national officer for the not-for-profit sector, Sally Kosky said: “This vote for strike action demonstrates our members’ disgust at the way they have been treated by the government’s policies which are designed to throw them on the dole queue at a very difficult economic time.”

The government insists that the factories are not financially viable. The Department for Work and Pensions wants to use the £320million budget for disability employment to get disabled people in to mainstream employment through the Access to Work programme instead.

The factories were established in the post War period to offer a safe working environment for disabled people.

A total of 36 Remploy sites, including the Barking one, are due to close or be sold off in the near future, with the remaining 18 due to close or be sold-off next year.

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