Dear Remploy strikers,
We send our heartfelt support to you for your strike days against the closure of Remploy factories. Every one of us who is disabled has a right not to have our disability used against us, and that includes the right to a decent job with a living wage. Remploy factories shouldn’t close, and wages should be higher. Workers organising themselves into unions at Remploy helped get better wages and working conditions. Closing the factories is an attempt to punish workers with disabilities for having the impudence to organise together. How dare a government of millionaires tell us our workplaces are too expensive while they give billions to bankers and corporations in subsidies, and bonuses to Remploy management with our tax money? We are determined to defend everything we’re entitled to and which we (and those who care for and about us) fought hard to get – benefits, decent wages and working conditions, high-quality services, accessible transport and more.
The government is criticising “segregated employment” in order to take away what gives us some equity — our hard-won disability concessions based on recognition of the added difficulties and discrimination we face in an inaccessible society. These include Remploy and the welfare state. They give huge contracts to companies like Atos to carry out “work capability assessments” in order to justify cutting our benefits. They want us dead or begging on the street. Thousands of sick and disabled people found fit for work are having to fight to keep our benefits. Many of us, reliant on benefits, are refusing workfare – disabled people, mums (many are disabled or looking after disabled children), people of colour, people who have problems with reading and writing.
We condemn prominent disabled people who claim to represent our best interests, but who are prepared to leave us with no wages at all, as they provide cover for the brutality of the government policy of Remploy factory closures — like Liz Sayce (whose report recommended ending “segregated employment”) and Mike Smith of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (who said on Channel 4 News that closing the factories is in the best interests of disabled people). Some of these disability ‘leaders’ are happy to take government money for themselves and their own organisations while helping to throw the rest of us out of a job. Scabs!
We also condemn disability charities which do the government’s dirty work, running workfare programmes that get them cheap labour, and specialised schemes for sick and disabled people forced into “work-related activity” which is contributing to early deaths.
Despite the onslaught, we take courage from your strike and from any victory we are having: at least 40% of appeals against Atos are being won and there is increased support for our demands – the BMA recently voted to end the work capability assessment.
All of us are workers, waged and unwaged, campaigning together to defend our rights. As part of the movement against the cuts, we are determined to support each other so we can all win.
Keep Remploy! Keep our benefits!
WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)
020 7482 2496
Payday men’s network
020 7267 8698