24 May 2006

Green's take action on trade union disability protest

Some good work here from Joseph Healy, who is the Party national disability advisor and also one of those organising the Green Party socialist Platform (meeting reminder ...June4th, open to party members, mail me on wallddd@hotmail,com)



The Green Party is supporting trades unionists working for Remploy, the UK’s biggest employer of disabled people, who protested today in London at a government review they believe will throw thousands of working disabled people back onto benefits.

The protest was aimed at Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton, as he spoke at the TUC Disability Conference on Wednesday 24th May.

Remploy is a subsidised manufacturing company, run by the Department of Work and Pensions, which was set up more than 60 years ago to provide work for disabled people. It now employs more than 5,000 people in 83 factories in the UK making a huge range of goods for the public sector, from police chemical protection suits to furniture for university halls of residence.

However a strategic review launched in March this year means that every Remploy factory in the UK is now under direct threat of closure, with the spectre of thousands of disabled people being thrown out of work and onto benefits. Bob Warner the Chief Executive of Remploy has made it plain that there will not be 83 factories left as a result of the review, and unions suspect the entire operation may close.

Dr Joseph Healy, National Disability Advisor for the Green Party, says: “At a time when the government proclaims its intention of encouraging disabled people back into the labour market, it beggars belief that the existence of Remploy, an organisation which employs many disabled people is being threatened.

“It is a well known fact that rates of unemployment among disabled people are far higher than for any other group in society. Not only do disabled people have to deal with discrimination from potential employers and coercion from the Benefits Agency, but now the government removes one of the few organisations which is a model of employment creation for the disabled community.

“Remploy and its employees, far from being shelved, should be a model which is properly funded and rolled out across the country, so that thousands of disabled people currently eking out a meagre existence on benefits, many of whom are eager to join the labour force, could find a welcoming work environment, where they could develop their economic and personal potential.

“The Green Party calls upon the government to ensure the continued existence of Remploy and its staff ,and to follow up its stated intentions towards disabled people with a concrete decision to save their jobs, rather than meaningless platitudes about 'social inclusion'."

ENDS

From Green Party press office, 020 7561 0282.

Published and promoted by Jim Killock for the Green Party, both at
1a Waterlow Road, London N19 5NJ.

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