Les Woodward wrote this in response to a previous article.
The Sayce Report
(A Treatise in Treachery for Disabled People)
The Sayce Report was launched on June 9th in relative silence. It happened in an upstairs room in a building on Holloway Road London. You would think that a report that has potentially such an impact on the lives of disabled workers employed by Remploy would have been well advertised and the workers would have had a chance to attend, ask questions, maybe? Make comments? Definitely, but you would be wrong on all counts.
No shop floor workers were invited, we had to gatecrash, we had to be disruptive to make our points and we were not at all welcome by the Minister, by Liz Sayce or by senior civil servants of the DWP.
This sets the context for the Sayce Report and why, it actually fails disabled people.
The report is highly anonymous; it is full of quotes that are nameless. The report highlights aspirations but is very light on how those aspirations are to be achieved. The report is very opinionated a subjective in its approach, which is really not surprising as RADAR who employs Liz Sayce as its Chief Executive is a well-known opponent of Supported Employment factories such as Remploy and were also signatories to an open letter to the Guardian Newspaper in May 2007 fully supporting the then proposed closure of Remploy factories.
To understand fully, the implications of the Sayce Report, it must be looked at in the context of the present economic situation in the UK as well as the present political situation in the UK. The Government has embarked on an austerity programme the like of which has not been known in living memory. An outrageous attack on the working class, public sector workers, disabled people, and just about any group in society that does not belong to the millionaire banking set that Cameron, Clegg and Osborne are so fond of.
The Sayce report is weapon in the ConDem armoury, which panders to the politically correct viewpoint that now we have a whole raft of anti-discrimination legislation any disabled person should be employed wherever they like without any fear of discrimination. A very laudable viewpoint and a very laudable aspiration, but we all know that in the real world discrimination and even hate crime against disabled people happens all too frequently, just the same as Women are discriminated against in the workplace, despite decades of the Equal Pay Act being in place and Black and Ethnic Comrades are discriminated against despite decades of the Race Relations Act being in place.
The report calls for either the closure or privatising of Remploy factories. The privatising of the factories could take many shapes, management buy-outs, Social Enterprises, Workers Cooperatives, etc. All of which are fraught with dangerous pitfalls for the workers employed in the factories. Remploy factories have a mix of people with all sorts of health issues and problems. The basic tenet of any factory is that the less able are helped and supported by the more able. Under private ownership the first consideration would be to cut costs, the less able would be viewed as an added cost to be stripped away to save money.
In 2008, 2,500, people lost their jobs in Remploy. In 2009 the GMB surveyed those members who had left and only around 5% had actually found work, of that 5% less than 5% of that number had found a job equal to, or better than, they had in Remploy.
Liz Sayce almost takes pleasure in rubbishing Remploy factories. There are several references to factories being described as ghettoes, as workers having non jobs and not being sustainable.
All of us would have seen images of our troops in Iraq, and Afghanistan wearing nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare suits. These are manufactured by disabled workers in Remploy Leven, very highly skilled workers who produce garments that are designed to save the lives of those who wear them and are therefore very highly specified.
Aston Martin cars are a British icon, the brake assemblies are assembled in the Birmingham factory. One of the workers is totally blind and has for years produced work that is safety critical and has to be right 100% of the time with absolutely no room for error.
Non jobs? Hardly! Neither do we consider ourselves as working in ghettoes. We have lives outside of Remploy, many of us are active in our communities, some of us are active politically, and socially as well. Just as important we are economically active, paying our taxes and national insurance. We spend our money and contribute to our local economy and when we travel we contribute to other local economies. The fact that we choose to work with other disabled people is our choice. We were not forced into Remploy and by golly we will not be forced out. We are proud of our skills, proud of our products and believe it or not we are proud of our Company. A Company that is a great company, a company that could be a lot better granted, but great never the less.
A Company, which has been miss-managed for years, by expensive, overpaid and massively under talented senior managers. A company that has a board of directors that are not capable of running a burger van on the high street at kicking out time on a Saturday. A Company, that governments of all persuasions have allowed to become inefficient and bureaucratic, with layers and layers of costly waste. But that is not a good enough reason to close it, but it is a very good reason to restructure it from the top down and to bring it into the 21st century, in order that new generations of young disabled people can learn all types of skills including life skills and basic skills, learn work ethic, and learn to be valued members of society who contribute positively to that society.
National Convenor Remploy Trade Union Consortium