Swansea Remploy Strike
19th July 2012
"There is a fantastic turnout on the Remploy picket line in Swansea this morning. Nearly all of the shop floor is here and they've been joined by trade unionists, anti-cuts campaigners and Socialist Party members.
"Pickets are bitter towards the Con-Dem government - Spencer showed me his T-shirt with 'Maria Miller Factory Killer' on the front and an attack on Ian Duncan Smith (Secretary of State for Work and Pensions) on the back. Duncan Smith showed how out of touch the Con-Dems are with his comments about Remploy workers should get proper jobs instead of making tea all day. The Swansea plant makes office furniture not tea. Steve's comments about the Con-Dems are unprintable!"
There was a more mixed reaction to the proposals of the Welsh Government to subsidise employers to take on redundant Remploy workers. While some pickets thought the proposals might provide a way for local authorities to co-operate in continuing to run the Welsh factories but there was concern that there is not enough detail and that the amounts made available might not be enough.
Other pickets pointed out that in order for the Welsh Government to subsidise a private employer to take them on they would need to find a job in the first place - no easy task with unemployment rising in Wales and even harder for disabled people - and that there is no guarantee that it would be of similar skills, terms and wages to their current positions.
Jean Curtis, recipient of an award for 30 years' long service, doesn't want to leave Remploy and there is no logic to the decision to close Remploy. Neil and other workers feel their organisation has been deliberately run down for years, softening it up for closure and privatisation of the most profitable parts. They told me that the Swansea plant could be profitable in its second year if operational changes the workers themselves have highlighted were carried out; in the alternative strategy developed by the Remploy trade unions, they estimate that the whole organisation could balance the books by 2017/2018, while providing work for 2,000 disabled people.
Jean told the South Wales Evening Post what she thought of being thanked for 30 years service before being sacked "I'm disgusted. I don't care what Iain Duncan Smith says, there is nothing out there, especially for disabled people. I know lots of people who finished at Remploy in 2008. They would be glad to come back if the place was open because there are no jobs out there."
For reports of Remploy pickets across Wales, see Socialist Party Wales website.
For reports of Remploy pickets in England, see Socialist Party website.