Remploy workers slam ‘sham’ talks

Workers also went on strike in Glasgow. Pic: Roberto Cavieres
Workers also went on strike in Glasgow. Pic: Roberto Cavieres

REMPLOY workers from Fife have joined their colleagues from throughout the UK to take part in industrial action.

Thousands of employees went on strike in protest against Government plans to close 27 of the country’s 54 disabled workers’ factories by the end of the year.

A further nine factories face an uncertain future and the remaining 18 sites, including Leven and Cowdenbeath, are due to close or be sold-off next year.

In Scotland many congregated in Glasgow and Motherwell, with some staff from Leven and Cowdenbeath travelling to Dundee to join colleagues on a picket line there.

The Cowdenbeath and the Leven workers were actually scheduled to be on holiday due to a pre-planned annual shutdown, but many turned up regardless.

Linda Menzies told the Mail she went to show her support: “I just feel there really hasn’t been any consultation. It’s just been a sham, any questions that we ask just never got answered.

“Personally I feel the Government has decided to get rid of us.

“It’s not just a job to some of the workers. It’s their life, they depend on it.

“A lot of them don’t have families and it’s like a big family. Everybody looks out for each other.”

The industrial action took place after union members from GMB and Unite voted to strike on two days and ban overtime.

Unite called on the “hard-hearted” UK Government to follow the lead of the Welsh Government and at least pledge money for employers who give jobs to Remploy workers when the factories close.

Its national officer for the not-for-profit sector, Sally Kosky, said of the strikers: “They are rightly angry that they face a bleak future on the dole, as it is always more difficult for those with disabilities to obtain employment.

“Work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith should take a lesson from the Cardiff government which has shown compassion and practical financial help to keep Remploy workers in jobs for at least four years.”

GMB national secretary, Phil Davies added: “Iain Duncan Smith is systematically destroying lives by his hard-hearted actions.

“We will continue our campaign by all means at our disposal to reverse this pernicious decision.”

Both the Leven and the Cowdenbeath factories specialise in making life-jackets.