Thursday, 6 March 2008

Remploy Trefforest workers betrayal

The Remploy factory in Trefforest is closing today because of a decision made by Peter Hain when he was Secretary of State for Wales. Remploy was founded in 1945 to offer employment to people with disabilities, particularly soldiers injured in World War Two.

I have met the workers and union organisers on a number of occasions. To be there with them today when they walked out of the factory for good was soul destroying. Despite managing to negotiate six transfers to another factory, a large proportion of the remaining 75 fear they'll never work again.

A job in Remploy utilised their skills in a protected environment. It gave them the dignity that will be taken away from them when they sign on tomorrow. One worker described his old workplace as a community, free of the discrimination that exists against disabled people in the wider world.

Five senior GMB union officials have resigned from the Labour Party over what they have called the “despicable betrayal” of disabled workers at the closing Remploy factories. In a damning letter to Gordon Brown, GMB national secretary Phil Davies said that he had been a member of the Labour Party for nearly 30 years, but that his party’s treatment of Remploy workers was so unjust that he had no option but to resign.

Working people in the Valleys have long given their support to the Labour party. For them to be treated in this way is despicable. These GMB officials have taken a clear and principled stand. The way that the Westminster government has treated the Remploy workers in Trefforest is unforgivable. This episode demonstrates once again that New Labour in London could not be more distant from the admirable principles of social justice on which their party was founded.

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