Mar 142014
 

We are beginning to see the results of several years of campaigning against unjust welfare reforms that target disabled people. But Atos attempting to pull out of its contract (Report, 22 February) represents only a partial victory. Other private corporations are already lining up to take over. So long as the work capability assessment (WCA) regime continues, so will the misery it causes to disabled people and their families, and to the workers involved in implementing a system they don’t agree with.

The WCA should be replaced immediately with a rigorous and safe system that does not cause avoidable harm to disabled people or those with chronic health issues or terminal illnesses. The UK government and opposition should follow the Scottish government’s pledge that private for-profit companies are removed entirely from having anything to do with the assessment of disabled people. This area of public policy belongs firmly within the NHS and the public sector.

The PIP contract must be removed from Atos with immediate effect: targets in its handling of the WCA have affected thousands of disabled people, leading to hastened deaths, waits of up to a year, and leaving people without income or food.


Linda Burnip Co-founder, Disabled People Against Cuts
Tracey Lazard CEO, Inclusion London
John McArdle Co-founder, Black Triangle
Mark Serwotka General secretary, PCS Union
Frances O’Grady General secretary, TUC
John McDonnell MP
Len McCluskey General secretary, Unite
Francesca Martinez WOW petition
Pat Onions Pat’s Petition
Rosemary O’Neill CarerWatch
Sean Vernell National secretary, Unite the Resistance
Eileen Short Chair, National Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation
Rev Paul Nicolson Taxpayers Against Poverty
Claire Glasman WinVisible (women with visible & invisible disabilities)
Ariane Sacco WinVisible
Mark Harrison CEO, Equal Lives
Kevin Caulfield Chair, Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition Against Cuts
Rahel Geffen CEO, Disability Action in Islington
Lyla Adwan-Kamara Merton Centre for Independent Living
Shaun O’Regan Southwark Benefit Justice Campaign
Barry McDonald Chair, Bromley Experts by Experience
Ian Hodson National president, Bakers Food & Allied Workers Union
Ronnie Draper General secretary, Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union
Mick Carney National president, Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association
Manuel Cortes General secretary, Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association
Sean McGovern Unite executive councillor
Rob Murthwaite Equalities rep, UCU London region
Mike Cox Norfolk Disabled People Against Cuts
Dr Stephen Carty Medical adviser, Black Triangle Campaign
Debbie Jolly Co-founder, Disabled People Against Cuts
Andy Greene Islington Disabled People Against Cuts
Ellen Clifford Croydon Disabled People Against Cuts
Paula Peters Bromley Disabled People Against Cuts
Conan Doyle London Disabled People Against Cuts
Bob Ellard National steering committee, Disabled People Against Cuts
Anita Bellows National steering committee, Disabled People Against Cuts
Ciara Doyle National steering committee, Disabled People Against Cuts
Roger Lewis National steering committee, Disabled People Against Cuts
Jane Bence WOW petition
Rick Burgess WOW petition

March 3rd To see other letters:  http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/mar/03/grim-toll-fit-for-work-tests

 

Jun 082012
 

The closure of the Remploy factories has ignited a wealth of media attention and strong feeling as well as differences of opinion between disabled people, and Disabled Peoples’ Organisations (DPOs) on the position of disabled Remploy factory workers. The now infamous Sayce report called for closure of the factories in the ironically titled: ‘Getting in, staying in and getting on: disability employment support fit for the future’. This was followed by a consultation exercise in July 2011 to which DPAC responded outlining the impact of the closure of the factories and urging that they remain open.

Since then, DPAC, DPOs, Unions, disabled workers, disabled and non-disabled people have been active on the proposed closures in a number of ways which have been publicised on the DPAC site. DPAC have invited Liz Sayce to comment, but she has not responded to our request.

Most recently the Sayce report has been accused of doing the Governments ‘dirty work’, as elitist and a part of the cuts agenda at the TUC Disabled Peoples’ conference. 

There was overwhelming support at the annual TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference for the campaign to fight the planned closure of the Remploy factories.

The government announced in March that 36 of the 54 remaining Remploy factories across the UK would close by the end of 2012, with the loss of more than 1,500 disabled people’s jobs, while there would be further consultation over the future of the other 18 factories.

The announcement was part of the government’s response to a consultation on last year’s review of employment support by Liz Sayce, chief executive of Disability Rights UK (DR UK).

Sayce called in her report for funds currently used to subsidise the factories to be ploughed into more personalised forms of employment support for disabled people, including the Access to Work (AtW) scheme.

But Mandy Hudson, from the National Union of Teachers, told the conference that the Sayce report had “gone about doing the government’s dirty work”.

And she criticised “the completely cavalier way that Liz Sayce’s report sets adrift a whole set of disabled workers”.

The disabled peer Lord [Colin] Low also criticised Sayce’s report, and said its “highly individualised approach… seems to smack of elitism”.

Read more of the article by John Pring including the Remploy protest outside the offices of DR UK by Remploy workers and UKUncut here  

 Opening up the debate

Since the government announced the closures, some DPOs have backed its plans, arguing that the move was one towards the inclusion of disabled people.

But Tracey Lazard, chief executive of Inclusion London, said:

This is a cut. It isn’t about inclusion. We shouldn’t let the government justify this in the name of inclusion.

She accepted that the disability movement has been divided on whether to support the closures, but she said:

What we need is a dialogue. This is us putting an alternative view forward which hopefully will get a debate going. That’s what we need. Read more

Letter to the Guardian

The publication of a letter against Remploy closures was published in both on-online and print versions of the Guardian on May 10. The letter was composed by Inclusion London, DPAC and unions. Many DPOs and disabled people signed in support of the Remploy workers. The letter was shortened and some names and DPOs were reduced due to space restrictions by the Guardian. This link  will take you to the letter with a link to the original letter’s wording. DPAC will be updating the names and DPOs that were left off the printed and online versions shortly. We asked Liz Sayce to comment, but she did not respond.

However, a response article to the letter was issued by DPO Breakthrough UK claiming that while they agreed with many aspects of our letter they could not join other DPOs in signing it and wanted to open up debate on the Remploy issue.

We agree with opening the debate, and provide a link to the thoughtful piece by disabled activist and comedian Laurence Clark published in the Independent: Remploy Closures: right in theory but where does it leave disabled employees?

Sean McGovern a former Remploy factory worker responded directly to the Breakthrough article

and Les Woodward a GMB convener and worker at the Swansea Remploy factory said of the Breakthrough article:

This article, unfortunately is typical of the “Politically Correct” brigades attitude to Supported Employment and the language they use to try and justify their positions…

Another unfortunate slant of this article is that it totally fails to take into account the effect on the workers themselves or indeed other disabled workers who given the present economic climate would give their eye teeth for a job any job. They would sell their soul for a job in Remploy that can provide skilled work, training and other support that employment in Remploy offers.

 I have said it many times and I will say it a lot more. No-one ever forced a gun to my head to work in Remploy, over the 28 years I have been employed by the Company, I have been free to leave at any time I wanted, just like any other worker in any other workplace.

 Of course whether or not I exercise that choice to leave is dependant not least on economic circumstances that I have found myself in and whether or not the alternative employment was viable in terms of remuneration or terms and conditions. No employment opportunities that can match those that I am on in Remploy have presented themselves as yet.

 No one would disagree with the aspirations of a fully inclusive society, and I for one would absolutely love to see the day when Remploy really was old fashioned and there would be no need for Remploy because we would have a fully inclusive society that caters for everyone. Unfortunately we live in a rather different world which is going further and further away from inclusion and equality of opportunity over the last 18 months or so rather than moving more towards inclusion and equal opportunity. The reason for this is that we are now governed by the rich for the rich and of the rich, while we get poorer and poorer.

 The ultimate shame in all this is that organisations such as the one who authored this article are wittingly or unwittingly collaborating with this Government in implementing cuts in the living standards of some of the very people they purport to support.

 Thanks a million to everyone that signed the letter, we really appreciate it and appreciate the support that you give us.

 Les

 We will provide more responses soon….

Previous pieces from DPAC and others

DPAC has always been transparent in its connections, actions and thoughts on the Remploy closures, which have been published on the DPAC web site, some of which we list here. We also include pieces by other groups

Remploy Closures: no segregated employment translates to unemployment for up to 2000 workers

DPAC Remploy Workers meeting London March 20th

Right to Work Pledges Support for Remploy workers

London meeting unites resistance to Remploy Closures

Furious workers hit out at Boss whose report led to Remploy factories getting the Axe

Demo for Remploy workers April 20th

Independent: Betrayed Disabled Workers protest against Remploy Closures

Fight the Remploy Closures

Remploy Public Meeting Thursday 26th April

Government accused of Hijacking Disability Equality Language to Justify Remploy Closures

The closure of Remploy factories is about cuts and cannot be justified by a misguided language of inclusion in a time when disabled people are facing the worse attacks on their inclusion, human rights and equality in UK history. Disabled people and DPOs need to support the Remploy workers rather than engaging in forms of ideological bullying that refuse to take into account the impacts on disabled peoples’ lives. Nor should they be so arrogant as to suggest that these workers shouldn’t have choice in where they chose to work. Less than 5% of Remploy workers in the last set of closures found alternative jobs, with some committing suicide-is this really something that we want to support for up to 2000 more disabled people under a flimsy Tory rhetoric of inclusion?

 

May 112012
 

Please see below for published letter in Guardian put together by Inclusion London, DPAC and allies including unions. The final letter needed to be shortened for publication, as a result we apologise to any signatories who may have missed as the Guardian also insisted on individual names representing each organisation. The text of the original full letter with our recommendations can be seen at: http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/04/sign-up-to-support-the-remploy-workers/

The strength and number of signatories that were published makes a mockery of the assertion in the Sayce report that 100% of disabled organisations support the closure of Remploy factories- this is simply not true!

DPAC, Inclusion London, listed organisations, unions and individuals will continue to support the Remploy workers against the loss of their jobs and will not be taken in by the spurious ‘disability inclusion’ argument being used to advocate more disabled people losing their jobs in a time of economic disaster for disabled people.

Please help support the Remploy workers by leaving comments to the letter at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/may/10/disabled-works-fight-remploy-jobs

Disabled workers fight to save Remploy factory job

Thursday 10 May 2012 21.00 BST

As a group of disabled people’s organisations, run by and for disabled people, we – together with other individuals and organisations – believe the government’s decision to make 1,518 disabled workers unemployed by August, and a further 1,282 unemployed next year, by closing the Remploy factories is wrong (Report, 12 April). We do not believe these job losses constitute a victory for inclusion in the workplace. We have fought long and hard for an inclusive society where disabled people have the same employment chances, choices and opportunities as everyone else. Our goal and demand for inclusive employment must not be used to justify job cuts that will push these workers into poverty, exclusion and isolation.

This decision will effectively put these disabled workers on the scrap–heap at a time of recession when there is little to no hope of finding alternative employment, when eligibility for benefits is being slashed, and when support services for disabled people are being destroyed.

True equality and inclusion will be achieved through development of a plan of investment and support to transform the Remploy factories into viable social enterprises controlled by disabled employees, rather than their closure; investment to increase and expand the access to work scheme; investment in high-quality employment support services that enable disabled people to find employment and stay in employment; the right to inclusive education and accessible training and apprenticeships for all disabled people; and commitment to tackle discrimination in the workplace through better understanding and enforcement of Equality Act duties.
Deaf and disabled people’s organisations and groups:
Tracey Lazard CEO, Inclusion London, Linda Burnip Disabled People Against Cuts, Bill Scott Manager, Inclusion Scotland, Rahel Geffen Interim CEO, Disability Action in Islington, Lucy Byrne CEO, Richmond AID, Michelle Baharier CEO, Cooltan Arts, Caroline Nelson Director, Choice in Hackney, Roy Benjamin Chair, Merton Centre for Independent Living, Mark Harrison CEO, Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People, Alan Kerr CEO, Artsline, Dr Ju Gosling Chair, Regard, Rosemary Nicholson Visually Impaired in Camden, David Stock CEO, Southwark Disablement Association, Joanne Munn Director, Greenwich Association of Disabled People, Pat Bhabha Director, Disability Action Waltham Forest, Sharon Schaffer London Visual Impairment Forum, Mary Hick deafPLUS, Caroline Jones Chair, Norfolk Association of Disabled LGBT People, Ellen Clifford Bromley Experts by Experience CIC, Gill Goble Brighton DPAC, Andy Greene Islington DPAC, Roger Lewis Lambeth DPAC, John McArdle Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign in Defence of Disability Rights, Kevin James Atos Victims Group

Individuals:
Bill Holmwood, Richard Sturgess , Stephen Lee Hodgkins, Mo Stewart, Dr Stephen Hall, Caroline Richardson, Calum McLean, Pam Tinsley, Valerie Lang, Geoff Dewhirst, Sandra Dooley, Rubbena Aurangzeb-Tariq, Mik Scarlet, Isabel Ros López, Caroline Jones, Liana Lloyd, Alan Woodward, Diane Lucas, Ralph Pettingill, Alexandra Stein, Brid Fitzpatrick, Sasha Callaghan, Beverley Woodburn, Keith Hodgson, Ben Samuel, Julia Cameron, Ellen Clifford, Elane Heffernan, Vicky Ayech, Teresa Rayner, William Nutthall , Merry Cross, John Collings, Derek Kelter, Kaliya Franklin, Richard Lumb, Derek Stevens, John Newman, Maureen and Martyn Stagg, Stephanie Cadd, Jayne Linney, Liaquat Hussain, Ian Parkhill (a member of Worcester Coalition for Independent Living), Pat Onions, Rosemary O’Neill, Jean Ashlan, Jonathan Toye, David Steele, John McArdle , Paul Smith, Deborah King, Alison Morgan, David Brown, Mark Thomas, Danka Gordon, Les Seavor, Sue Brassey, Maureen Armstrong, Iyiola Olafimihan, Eleanor Firman, Gail Jeynes, Rosemary Iddenden, Dora Kostiuk, Bronwen Williams, Roger Lewis, Rob Murthwaite, Andy Greene, Beverley and Robert Stevens, Paul Farrelly MP, John McDonnell MP, Lisa Nandy MP, Peter Beresford, Karen Wild, Ellen Goodey

 

Other organisations/groups:
Jonathan Bartley Co-director, Ekklesia, Dr Artemi Sakellariadis Director, Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education, Jo Claire CEO, Three Cs Support, Martin Rathfelder Director, Socialist Health Association, Alison Blackwood Head of policy and knowledge, London Voluntary Service Council, Peter Corbett CEO, Thomas Pocklington Trust, Margie Arts Barrow and Furness Pensioners’ Association, Stefania Rulli-Gibbs Communications manager, Brandon Trust, Gordon McFadden Director of policy, Limbcare, Bahir Laattoe Barnet Alliance for Public Services, Marie Lynam The Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group

Unions:
Sean McGovern Unite executive council disability representative, Ivan Hickman Secretary, Stoke-on-Trent NUT, Steve Roberts Chair, Warwickshire Fire Brigade Union, Rob Crowther Unite (UCU branch), Ray Smith Secretary, Newcastle Central Unite 1901, Dr Helen Groom GP, Gateshead Medical Practitioners Union (part of Unite), Gavin Dudley GMB workplace rep, Helen Winterburn Branch chair, Unison Darlington LG branch, Barrow Trades Union Council, Chris Youett NUJ rep on TUC Midlands, David O’Tooe Branch development organiser, UCU Exeter office, Doug Oxer RMT Union, David Lowdon GMB member, SWP member, Martin Bove Unite member, John Lea Unite, Matt Brierley on behalf of PCS Ofsted branch committee, Rugby Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, Neil Smith GMB branch secretary

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