May 2010…Just how many of us I wonder, could contemplate what a Conservative led coalition government actually would mean for you & me? Or for millions of others, who just happen to be young, old, have children, drive a car, pay the bills, rely on financial help, or just happen to be female? How many could possibly have foreseen the gross disproportionate hardships imposed with such seemingly callus zelous, upon those in society, who need help & support the most? The reason I pose these questions, are to help focus minds upon the latest government act of crualty to inflict one of society`s most vulnerable groups…. Disabled workers!
1946, & one of the most beneficial organisations to help disabled people was introduced…Remploy. Since 1946, thousands upon thousands of disabled people have found dignity, self-respect, pride, & self-worth by the work opportunities it has helped provide. Vital for any person, let alone a disabled person, I think you`ll agree. Of far more benefit, even than the wages it has provided, for its workers & their families.
Workers at a typical Remploy factory, skillfully manufacturing furniture…
Who, in May 2010, I wonder could have possibly dreamed that this new Tory, Lid-Dem coalition would or could, act with such speed & brutality in its crushing decision to close a minimum 36 of Remploy`s 45 factories? Surely no British government could act this way? There surely can be no way ANY respectable government could simply throw at least 1,500 disabled workers on the unemployment scrap heap, in the depth of the worst recession we have ever lived through? This is pecisely what this Tory led coalition government intend to do!
Yesterday, July 19th, saw those 1,500 Remploy workers picket their factories, in a defiant, unified, & dignified stand against what can only be described as this government`s savage attacks & utter disregard, on not just their livelihoods, but on their very lives. These workers went on strike, not for higher pay, & not for better working conditions. They were not even on strike for better pensions, all of which are incredibly justified reasons to act. The only reason these disabled workers took strike action was to fight for an opportunity & a right to work. For an opportunity to provide for themselves, & for their families. For an opportunity, this government intends to remove as quickly as possible.
Last Stand? Disabled Workers at Remploy showing this government, their desperate desire to work!
What of me, I am not disabled, you may ask? Why should I be concerned by closures that don`t affect me? The point is, they DO affect us… they affect every single working person in the land! If this Tory-led coalition can act this way against society`s vulnerable, they can act this way against everyone & anyone they choose, & at will. The Tory track record of this brutality against our society is quite simply, recorded fact. For those of us old enough, who can possibly forget Margaret Thatcher`s open sickening gloating, as miners, steel workers, factory workers, & public servants in their hundreds of thousands being thrown on the dole. Even the kids had their school milk taken from their mouths, in what Thatcher called, `prudent policies`. Who prospered? Bankers, wealthy businessmen, the City`s high-flyers, corporate fat-cats, spivs & legal conmen. It seems that, Thatcher may be gone, but little else changes with the Conservatives. Remploy is testiment enough of that fact!
Our consciences should ALL be pricked. If they’re not, we have no right to complain, when this government sees fit to stab us in the back….& they WILL! If we accept, the government`s assertions that `Remploy costs too much`, then why don`t they look at cutting some of the hundreds of able bodied managers, & bosses, who earn an average of £40 to £60k p/a? Why make those who earn the least, pay the most. Able bodied managers stand a far greater chance of finding alternative employment, than a disabled person, with a progressive illness, wouldn`t you say? Quite simply, this government`s `reasons` for Remploy closures just do not stand up to logic.
Remploy workers have had incredible support from many honourable MP`s such as John Tricket, & Chesterfield`s Toby Perkins. Help too, from Trade Unions, such as Unite, & my own GMB Union. Help in their fight, by able mental & bodied people, who have taken the Remploy workers plight to their hearts. In short, thousands of decent people support Remploy in it`s valiant fight against closure. All deserve a huge well done… & for many, the fight will go on!