Paralmypic sprinter at London 2012

Paralympics sheds light on government’s Remploy hypocrisy

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Ged Dempsey, a printworker, and Unite member from Rotherham says government praise for Paralympians rings hollow when they are attacking the rights of the disabled 

Protests in Barking take on Remploy bosses, July 2012 Photo: Disabled People Against Cuts

The Paralympics are upon us. They come just weeks after the coalition government announced callous plans to close 36 of the 54 remaining Remploy factories, leading to compulsory redundancy for 1,752 disabled workers.

The Remploy decision was hot on the heels of the government’s Welfare Bill being passed. They claim the bill is about helping people into work.

Instead of a commitment to help the most vulnerable people in society, the government is hell-bent on making life much worse for them.

Remploy provides real jobs for thousands of disabled workers, giving them the confidence and dignity to be active and contributing citizens. Closing the factories will cause real hardship and push many workers to the back of the dole queue, despite the hollow words of Iain Duncan Smith and his rich cronies in the Tories’ cabinet of millionaires.

Now, on top of all that has happened so far, they are threatening the pensions of the Remploy workers.

The vile treatment of Remploy workers has been a disgrace and the politicians should hang their heads in shame.

Successive governments have attacked these vulnerable workers by whittling the plants down over the years. While this was going on, too many politicians sat on their hands and were silent, failing to stand up for those with little or no voice.

We in the trade union movement demanded an end to the grubby, incompetent and self-interested Remploy directors and management; we called for real commitment to getting more public procurement contracts from Government and local authorities.

All to no avail.

The solidarity and comradeship of Remploy workers, in standing up and fighting for their basic rights, has been a lesson and inspiration for all.

However, the government and media friends will attempt to airbrush the dispute from their story.

The next step should now be for Remploy workers to use the Paralympic Games as a further way to build their public profile and focus public attention on their plight, stepping up their just fight and naming and shaming those responsible for the decision to deny them employment.

We will judge governments and society by how well they treat their weak and vulnerable.

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Courtesy of Unite Grassroots Left – reclaiming the Unite union for the members  

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