Remploy Barking workers join national strike against factory closure

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

Around 50 employees from the Barking Remploy factory in Longreach Road 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 54 Remploy factories.

Unite members voted 59.7 per cent in favour of strike action and 76.1 per cent voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike.

The GMB members voted 79.5 per cent in favour of industrial action, including strike action and 87 per cent for action short of strike action.

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.

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Remploy staff will stage the strikes on July 19 and July 26. A continuous overtime ban starts on 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 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.