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From The Socialist newspaper, 4 October 2007

Remploy workers win partial victory

Remploy workers won a very important partial victory from the government at Labour Party conference. Secretary of state for Work and Pensions, Peter Hain, announced a moratorium on Remploy factory closures. In return, the unions agreed to withdraw their motion to conference.

Socialist Party Wales

The GMB motion called for 150 million of public procurement contracts to go to Remploy factories, an end to the factory closures and the expansion of the Remploy factory workforce. It called for every public sector contracting body to give at least one contract to Remploy and for the new Remploy job centre (Interwork) functions to be returned to Job Centre Plus.

Hain's concessions were significant, if vague. He accepted the importance of European legislation that allows factories employing at least 50% disabled people to secure public procurement contracts without tendering for them. He announced a moratorium on closures "to help find a solution" to the dispute.

He also announced that no factory closures would take place without the agreement of ministers. He announced 555 million of subsidies, although this is not new money and it is over five years. But union officials and shop stewards can now argue this should be spent on more jobs in the factories instead of on building up the Remploy Interwork scheme. He also announced that there will be no compulsory redundancies.

However, Hain also said that: "Remploy must change to have a financially sustainable future". If the pressure is not kept up, the factories will be picked off one by one. There has already been a significant run-down of employment within the factories over the last several years, in response to a directive to make the factories 'unviable'.

Hain's announcement may have been hastened by the possibility of an autumn election. But, it is the result of a tremendous campaign by union shop stewards and members within the factories with important work from union officials, as well. The government thought that disabled workers would be a soft target.

Remploy workers and shop stewards demonstrating outside Labour Party conference made their determination clear.

Chris Williams, GMB shop steward from Bridgend spoke for many when he said: "This is mainstream employment. If you didn't have 'Remploy' over the door, it could be Sony's or Ford's."

Stewart Fitzpatrick added, "They're not just trying to take our jobs. They're trying to take the jobs of the next generation of disabled people that are growing up at the moment".

The task now is to keep the pressure up and build Remploy shop stewards networks both regionally and nationally, to defend every Remploy factory and every Remploy job.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 4 October 2007:

Support postal workers: decisive action can win

"We've had the battle - now this is war!"

Protests make bosses ditch closure plan


War and terrorism

Iraq: end the occupation nightmare

Stop the War Coalition (STWC) national demonstration


Editorial and comment

Tory party fears an autumn election

Banking turmoil continues

Corporate Labour


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Come to the NHS demo!

Swansea meeting


Socialist Party news and analysis

Classroom assistants on strike

Supermarket price-fixing scandal

Success! Double whammy for nursery campaign


Socialist Party features

EU's anti-working class 'reforms'

Fighting nuclear power


Socialist Students

Students want to fight back


Socialist Party feature

Che Guevara - revolutionary fighter


Socialist Party events

Socialism 2007: Ideas for our future

Socialism 2007.net


International socialist news and analysis

Burma: Dictatorship under threat


Socialist Party reviews and comment

QPR buy-out - Reclaim the game!

It's a free world, a film by Ken Loach

Anno 1701 - Dawn of Discovery


Socialist Party workplace news

Local government pay offer: It's time for action

Remploy workers win partial victory

Care workers on strike

National Shop Stewards Network makes plans


 

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