Sep 282013
 

Just less than 3 years ago disabled people marched at the Tory party conference to protest against austerity cuts using the slogan CUTS KILL. Even though it was obvious that the plans outlined by millionaire George Osborne in the June 2010 Spending Review would not be good for disabled people even we did not envisage just how fast our welfare state would be destroyed by the Condems or how many disabled people would be pushed to suicide or death through the malicious Condem cuts.

 

We could not have imagined that 3 years later we’d be getting daily emails from disabled people and pregnant disabled people who were actually starving and being left without food, money or access to any hardship payments. We knew but couldn’t have possibly imagined that disabled people would have their benefits stopped for weeks and in some cases months without any means to support themselves other than possible prostitution, drug dealing or theft. What do you do when you are already living on the breadline with no savings and your only income is taken away? We never imagined we’d read about children, disabled and non-disabled being left without food.

 

It’s hard to believe it’s the UK we’re talking about yet this is what life has become for many in the 21st century in the 7th richest nation in the world. We never imagined that we’d go so far backwards that all of the gains made for disabled people’s rights over the last 30 years would effectively just be swept away as disabled people are vilified as shirkers and scroungers.

 

10,000 Cuts and Counting is a single issue protest against the now discredited computerised Work Capability Assessment executed by ATOS. It has pushed so many disabled people to suicide or death through fear and stress that DWP have now stopped collecting any statistics on the death count but between January 2011 and November 2011, some 10,600 claims ended and a date of death was recorded within six weeks of the claim end. DPAC and other campaigners are proud to have destroyed the ATOS brand name but there is no point in just replacing ATOS with another corporate monster and the WCA must be scrapped in its entirity. Why should any private firm rake in millions and millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to provide a totally flawed service which could be provided by civil servants for a fraction of the cost as has been the case until recently? The WCA was put in place to cut the number of claimants by 1 million either through miracle cures or death it seems.

 

One of the next major battles disabled people face is the scrapping of Disability Living Allowance put in place to meet the extra costs of being disabled. This too has been designed with only one aim in mind to cut costs and remove 20% of disabled people from entitlement. Many disabled people rely on this income to enable them to work and will no longer be able to if it is lost to them. Even more will be left trapped in their homes with no means to go out.

 

For anyone who thinks this doesn’t matter to them 6 out of 7 disabled people have an acquired impairment through long term illness or an accident. Most of you will also get older and so how older disabled people are treated should be of great concern to you – it’s your future. Let’s not be polite older disabled people are often treated worse than animals in the UK getting 4 x 15 minutes ‘pop ins’ if they’re lucky and imprisoned in their homes and some left soaking wet the rest of the time.

 

This is the fate now awaiting younger disabled people from 2015 when without any vote in parliament the Independent Living Fund will be closed leaving local councils to try to replace this funding with ever shrinking budgets and different eligibility criteria.

 

At the same time they say they want disabled people to work but without this vital support even if found fit for work they are unable to. The Remploy factories have been decimated in the Condem attacks against disabled people supported by some organisations who purport to campaign for us. At last count only about 3% of those made redundant had secured mainstream employment but given the barriers to gaining and keeping employment that disabled people face this was always likely. To this we need to add the benefit cap which is in effect a futher cut.

 

The Bedroom Tax so loudly condemned by the UN rapporteur Raquel Rolnik existed in the private rented sector since 2008 and Labour who introduced this have singularly forgotten to mention that they originally also planned to roll it out in April 2010 to the social housing sector. None of us should forget that most of these horrors now affecting both disabled and other people were in many cases introduced by Labour and it is time for all of us all to start to tell them what they must do if they want to have a chance of being elected.

 

It is also way past time for the larger unions to stop pussy-footing around, stop unconditionally supporting a neo-liberal Labour party and force them to act as an effective opposition and outline their real policies. The unions and TUC should have already called a general strike but need to do so now urgently. It is time to add industrial power to community activism if any vestiges of our welfare state are to be salvaged for our children.

 

Disabled people and others also face a further raft of cuts and attacks to the NHS and in particular mental health services, to health and safety at work legislation, to Access to Work funding, to secure employment and not zero hours contracts, to accessible transport, to accessible housing, a right to mainstream education, cuts to council tax benefit, all coupled with cuts to CAB services, legal aid cuts and lastly the introduction of the Lobbying Bill which regardless of it’s eventual outcome will not silence us in any way. We are now many thousands and we will be heard.

This piece is also due to be published in the Morning Star

 

 

Jul 232012
 

 

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)  

win@winvisible.org

020 7482 2496

Payday men’s network

payday@paydaynet.org

020 7267 8698

 

Jul 202012
 

Feedback report from DPAC steering group member Roger Lewis.

On Saturday June 23rd over 700 Trade Unionists, anti cuts campaigners and invited speakers met inCentral London to discuss the next steps in the fight to stop the ConDem austerity cuts.

DPAC was proud to be there and our stall was in the main hall at the event.

Those attending heard from a tremendous set of platform speakers ranging from well known figures in our movement like John McDonnell MP and from speakers invited from across Europe who are involved in fighting the cuts in their own countries. The biggest reception by far went to one of the Spanish Miners currently engaged in pitched battles with the police as part of their fight to save their own jobs and pay. He electrified the audience with graphic descriptions of their use of rocket launchers in their fight against the brutality of the Spanish police who are clearly being used to try to break their strike action.

John McDonnell spoke in as uncompromising and combative a mood as ever underlining the importance of uniting all the struggles across the summer and leading up towards the TUC National Demonstration planned for October 20th. John spoke about the importance of the fight to save the Remploy workers jobs and described how the attacks on their jobs epitimised the sheer brutality and visciousness of the Condems. As usual, he went on to promote DPAC and the importance of our Direct Actions including the successful road blocks at Regent Street and Trafalgar Square earlier this year. He described how we provide a blue print for other sections of people fighting back and praised us for our dedication and resilience in the face of the attacks by Atos and the attacks on our welfare benefits.

Mark Holloway, a Remploy Shop Steward from the Barking factory in East London addressed the meeting from the floor in the second session of the day.

Mark explained the lies behind the government’s assertion that closing the factories was a move against segregated workplaces. He got a huge round of applause when he told the meeting that workers across the various factories under threat were being balloted for strike action and were also considering what alternative action they could consider in building a campaign to save their jobs.

Other speakers referred to the work DPAC has done and described our importance as a central part of the struggle.

The Unite the Resistance meeting came at a hugely important time as many of the public sector unions try to up the anti in their fight against the cuts in their pensions and link the strikes seen over the last year and a half to upcoming fights against pay cuts and privatisation.

We believe DPAC needs to be a central part to that fight and we can form the link between the Trade Unions disputes and strikes and direct action by community groups, anti-cuts groups and movements like our own.

 

 

Jul 162012
 

The dangers of throwing several thousand people from paid work into unemployment should be obvious to anyone. The fact that a majority, although not all, of the Remploy workers are disabled people should signal a further problem: Disabled people who want to work, are more likely to be unemployed than non-disabled people in all official statistics since records began. For example in 2011 the employment rate was 48.8% for disabled people compared to 77.5% for non-disabled people[1].

It is dangerous, misguided and completely ludicrous to claim that all disability organisations and the disability movement have decided that a new perverse way of supporting disabled people is to make them unemployed and subject to the ravages that disabled people must endure under this government, as the Sayce report suggests. See for example http://www.dpac.uk.net/tag/guardian-newspaper/

For those of us that have spent years arguing for an equality agenda for disabled people the arguments put forward in the Sayce report are: dangerous, misguided and wrong.

Dangerous Partners

The Sayce report (‘Getting in, Staying in and Getting on’) and the Tory desire to seemingly make the poorest most excluded people further excluded and even poorer are a strange partnership, throw in Miller, Unum and ATOS and we have a list of known enemies of disabled people-some might wonder what Sayce is doing in such unpleasant company.

The Sayce/ Tory partnership produced a report rumoured to have cost over 2 million pounds to:

1. Explain how to save money

2 Improve disabled Remploy workers lives’ by closing their factories and seemingly removing their jobs.

3. Ensure that if factories are sold off to buyers at knock down prices, buyers have no enforcement in place to re-employ disabled workers

The basis of these ‘improvements’ are predicated on the notion that disabled people need to be included in society- who would disagree? However, inclusion for disabled people and many non-disabled people in society now often means being included in the growing army of the unemployed –for those disability organisations that sign up to this notion, unemployment prevents segregation- well that’s true, but maybe they should re-examine that particular version of inclusion vs segregation. Maybe we need examine the other partners in this game? Is it a surprise that Unum were involved in the Sayce report for example? See here for an explanation of why Unum have satisfied the status of an enemy of disabled people and co-conspirators in welfare reform or the cuts agenda. One organisation that needs no introduction is ATOS. ATOS own the company KPMG. KPMG were contracted by the Department of Works and Pensions too (cost currently unknown) – they produced a report of their own in March 2012. The report was titled: Analysis of Remploy Enterprise business and Employment Services’ A copy of the report summary can be found here

However, the validity of this report may be in doubt to the general reader as page two is filled with a list of disclaimers. These include:

●Nothing in this report constitutes a valuation or legal advice.

●We have not verified the reliability or accuracy of any information obtained in the course of our work.

●In preparing our report, our primary source has been Remploy’s internal management information and representations made to us by Remploy Senior Management during the project. We do not accept responsibility for such information which remains the responsibility of Management. Details of our principal information sources are set out on page 4 and we have satisfied ourselves, so far as possible, that the information presented in our report is consistent with other information which was made available to us in the course of our work in accordance with the terms of our Service Order. We have not, however, sought to establish the reliability of the sources by reference to other evidence.

Maybe Les Woodward’s analysis, which the DWP didn’t pay millions for, might be more credible

Closing Remploy factories will not save disabled workers from ‘Victorian-era segregation’. It will wreck lives[2]

An interesting postscript is that one of the directors of Remploy is also a director of RADAR: ‘all in it together’? Labour, (who incidentally closed a number of factories in 2008 so let’s not get too teary eyed), have urged the Government to start the whole consultation again, some claiming that it is a shambles. While Phil Davies, secretary of the GMB accused the Government of turning the consultation into a

good old-fashioned Klondyke gold rush”[3].

But there’s more, as argument after argument presented in the Sayce report is knocked down and proved to have a false or questionable basis.

 Misguided Arguments

The ‘Independent’ Sayce Report of June 2011 and the consultation that followed apparently showed that a group of  individuals, organisations, charities (and the insurance company Unum) felt that segregated workplaces were outdated and as a result disabled workers should be made redundant (see appendix for those involved in consultation).

 

 However, the process of redundancies was underway as early as January 2011 six months before the estimated 2 million pound plus Sayce report began. On 14 January 2011 Remploy HR Director, Sue Butcher phoned the GMB National Secretary and informed him that an announcement was to be made on 18 January 2011. No other information was given.

On 18 January 2011 the company met with the trade unions and informed them that they were opening up a voluntary redundancy programme and that consultation would start on 24 January 2011. The company had already informed the employees by letter that it was opening up a Voluntary Redundancy scheme. No consultation had taken place with the trade unions. Seems they were not important enough to be invited[4].

The Sayce report found people working at Remploy factories who were quoted as saying they wanted ‘real’ jobs and the report ‘team’ claimed to have consulted in-depth with workers

 

The GMB union cannot seem to find these quotees in the factories who wanted ‘real’ jobs, for some reason. It has, however found 4 people who took part in what was presented as an in-depth consultation with Remploy employees[5].

The closure of the Remploy factories is because they are segregated workplaces isn’t it?

 This is one simplistic argument popularised by the Sayce report, however the Remploy factories do not employ disabled people exclusively. In 2008, 29 factory sites geographically based from Scotland to Cornwall closed with over 2,500 Remploy employees becoming unemployed. Of these, 1,700 employees were disabled. The 2012 closures will affect around 80% of employees who are disabled.

Given the other players in the partnership –it all points to a ‘cuts agenda’ rather than any supposed moral high ground on inclusion.

The workers will find alternative jobs in the open workforce?

 

In 2008, 29 factory sites geographically based from Scotland to Cornwall closed with over 2,500 Remploy employees becoming unemployed. Nearly 1,700 of these employees were disabled and most of them have not worked since and remain on benefits.

From the last round of Remploy closures  85% of disabled ex-employees remain unemployed[6]. This was in a better economic climate than that of today. Some committed suicide, many threatened suicide and many experienced mental health issues, for those that already had mental health issues these were exacerbated.

The workers will be supported when the factories close

 

 During 2007 and the early part of 2008 the company gave promises of support for those leaving in the round of closures carried out under the Labour government but history has shown that very few of the 1,700 disabled people received even a phone call from Remploy let alone any practical support[7].

In 2012 there is a community pot of 1.5 million offered to charities and disabled peoples’ organisations (DPOs) to support the workers into jobs by the DWP. This may explain the keenness of the illogical ‘equality into unemployment arguments’ that some were producing but it is unlikely that DPOs and the usual list of disability charities or voluntary organisations can find jobs for ex-Remploy workers where they do not exist, despite taking their 30 pieces of silver. However, some are running the much maligned mandatory work programs-so maybe that will the grand plan, sanctions and all.

The full criteria for this fund has been laid out in a Freedom of Information Request on the purpose of the Community Support Fund (CSF)  [8]

The CSF will offer financial and non financial support to local disabled people’s user led organisations (DPULOs) and voluntary sector organisations to deliver support and services designed to meet the specific needs of
disabled Remploy employees affected by the announcements on the future of Remploy factories.

The intention is that the fund will help to support affected Remploy staff to re-engage with their local communities and help their transition from segregated sheltered employment to mainstream employment. It will be focussed around the geographical areas where affected Remploy employees live and used to build the capacity of local DPULOs, 3rd sector and voluntary organisations and to develop a range of activities and projects to help the move from sheltered to main stream employment.

As well as a modest amount of money being available to support projects to help ex-Remploy employees, and other local disabled people, get into work, training or volunteering funding will be made available to help create learning and development activities to improve employment
opportunities.

 Not really that impressive. But impressive enough for emails asking organisations to ‘put their applications in’ to go out to selected disability organisations and charities 24 hours after the closures were formally announced. These emails say nothing about jobs but give examples of film clubs and other types of support , none of which offer a paid job which is what the factories offered. One option is to offer support in ‘choice and control’ where was the choice and control for those workers that wanted to stay in their paid jobs in the Remploy factories?

The Remploy workers will be better supported by Access to Work Schemes- money will be better spent on Access to Work

 

First, to qualify for Access to Work you need to have a job or a documented firm offer of one: first hurdle. The problems with Access to Work, including cost cutting under this government are too numerous to go into here, but even the hallowed Access to Work cannot match the percentage of support that was already being provided at the Remploy factories. This is particularly the case with learning difficulties and mental health issues.

Another point made in the Sayce report is that access to work may be able to benefit disabled people with a mental health conditions.  Out of the 32,680 helped in the current year only 460 have a mental health conditions.  This is only 1.4% of all those helped.  Compare this to 131 employees in Remploy who have a mental health conditions out of 2,692 employees which is 5% or 4 times higher.

When you look at another major disability which is learning disability, out of the 32,680 helped by access to work only 1,680 with this particular disability have been helped into employment.  This is just over 5% compared to the 462 disabled people out of 2,692 who have a learning condition working in Remploy (17.2%) again over 3 times as high[9].

Never the less, its all been a useful exercise to set up an expert panel on Access to Work run by the CEO of Essex Coalition of Disabled People and to extend access to Work to young disabled people enduring workfare type schemes[10]

The workers in the factories cost too much

 

GMB argues that voluntary redundancies increased the cost of each worker by £1,000 per worker. Management has remained top heavy, apparently ineffectual and overpaid- and the continued use of consultants such as KMPG have added to costs. These costs were lumped together along with running costs to produce a misleading amount per worker[11].

Further: There are 3238 employees most of whom are disabled and who earn less than £16,000 per year. The cost of travel for all employees has escalated to £2m, the cost of company cars to £2.4m and the cost of car allowances to £1.1m; a total cost of £5.5m.

The figure of £138m losses for the factory network is not true. We believe that if all the measures outlined in the trade unions document are taken on board and implemented then the cost of the factory network would be approx £35m per year.

Put another way when the profit from sales is considered and taken into account the cost per disabled worker to the State could be as low as £7,000.

When you also take into account the fact that tax and insurance is being paid in and benefits are not being paid out this figure could be substantially lower[12]. Alternatively: the cost of unemployment which for a disabled person could be as much as £25,000 to £30,000 per year for each disabled person not working when you take into consideration the revenue lost in tax and national insurance contributions the cost could be higher. A disabled person who is not working will probably receive higher benefits than a non disabled person. Housing benefits and careers allowances are only the tip of the iceberg.

The unseen and unmonitored costs start to mount up when you consider that a large number of disabled people who were made redundant when Remploy closed 29 factory sites now have severe health problems and the use of the NHS has greatly increased. We would estimate that this cost could be as high as £20,000 for some disabled people.

Figures in the Sayce report show that factories never profit

 

 In May 2012 Profits were up -Sally Kosky said: “According to the management’s own figures, the cost to government is down by £16.5 million on the previous year – £2.5 million better than budget”[13].

Also from May: A letter sent to Remploy employees shows the business is doing well, Plaid Cymru has claimed. The letter congratulates workers on a 12.2 per cent growth in sales and a 17 per cent reduction in costs. The Remploy factory in Swansea is one of seven sites in Wales which has been earmarked for closure.

Plaid Cymru’s equalities spokeswoman, Lindsay Whittle AM, said: “These figures prove that the UK Government’s intention to close Remploy factories is a thinly veiled attack on the welfare state. It shows that there is absolutely no justification for the government’s plans, except as a continuation of its attack on welfare recipients.”[14] 

So it looks like they did profit! The Swansea factory will be closed along with the others despite 12.2% in growth and a 17% reduction in costs. It was never about profits or costs was it?

But Remploy wasn’t getting Contracts was it?

 

The more worrying aspect of the company’s strategy on sales is the outsourcing of work and the lack of tendering for public procurement contracts.

Letters from the NHS Forth Valley and Stirling Council to the Minister show it is clear that Remploy has not shown interest in tendering for large contracts that the company could have won.

It is also apparent that the senior managers work within a very nice comfort zone; no aggressive sales strategy exists and no stretching targets exist. The trade unions believe this is part of the conspiracy to fail and the failure of the sales team is the responsibility of the Chief Executive and the Board.

We understand that because of the previous reduction in manpower that large amounts of work is being turned away or outsourced. Birmingham factory and Healthcare are prime examples[15].

 

DPAC seems to be saying that disability Charities and some DPOs are involved in some way that is not in line with the principles of disability rights- this does not make sense

 

It depends on your idea of disability rights; the old chestnut that keeps being trotted out is that closing the factories is all about the right of disabled people to be included. We ask what are the ex-Remploy workers going to be included in exactly? Film clubs?

Where was their choice and their rights in where they wanted to work and in keeping their paid jobs in the worst recession since the 1930s?

So who Gains?

 

 Cleary not the Remploy workers, they are merely the collective sacrificial lamb on the altar of profit and gain by others or those with vested interests if you prefer.

These include:

The beneficiaries in the invited team that made up the Sayce report.

The director who was on the board of Remploy and RADAR (now DRUK: chief executive Liz Sayce) simultaneously–there’s got be some gain there.

Those disability charities and organisations who may gain from the community pot to support the Remploy workers in their unemployment

KPGM (and ATOS who own KPGM) whose report has so many disclaimers making it another gross waste of tax payers’ money

UNUM, but we are not sure how they gain yet-their inclusion in the Sayce consultation team must serve some purpose for them.

Remploy senior managers’ beneficiaries of a 1.2 million bonus payment in 2012 when it was clear that factories were earmarked for closure

Those companies and disability charities running work programs such as work for your benefits ‘work programs’ such as workfare.

Those that will further their careers (and income) by sitting on ‘expert’ panels discussing Access to Work (rather than paid jobs) in the wake of the closures

Remploy itself by winning contracts to deliver Access to Work for mental health users for every area tendered before the closure deal was complete[16]

Doesn’t all that show a conflict of Interests?

 

 Yes, but this is Tory Britain- who cares about other peoples’ lives anymore when they can make a few quid?

Debbie Jolly co-founder DPAC

twitter: @redjolly1


[1] Source: Labour Force Survey, Quarter 2, 2011

 [4] Written evidence submitted by the GMB May 2011

 [5] Sayce Report Analysis July 20th 2011 GMB,UNITE, Community

 [7] Written evidence submitted by the GMB May 2011

 [9] A new strategy for the employment of disabled people: a new concept in the field of employment – by Phil Davies, GMB National Secretary for Manufacturing Section on behalf of the Consortium of Trade Unions

 [11] Written evidence submitted by GMB May 2011

 [12] A new strategy for the employment of disabled people: a new concept in the field of employment – by Phil Davies, GMB National Secretary for Manufacturing Section on behalf of the Consortium of Trade Unions

 [15] Written evidence submitted by the GMB May 2011

 

Appendix

 List of those involved in Sayce Consultation NB we are still waiting for a list of those involved in the report itself.

The following organisations submitted evidence to the review. Source: appendix 3 of Sayce report

1. 104 films Limited
2. A4e
3. Acquired Brain Injury Forum for London
4. Action Group
5. Asperger’s Inc
6. Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council
7. BASE
8. Birmingham City Council
9. British Assistive Technology Association
10. Bradford Council
11. Bristol and South Gloucestershire People First
12. Bristol City Council
13. British Psychological Society
14. Camden Society
15. Cardiff and Vale Coalition of Disabled People
16. Centre for Mental Health
17. Centre Point
18. Changing Faces
19. Cheshire East Council
20. Choices and Rights Disability Coalition
21. Elcena Jeffers Foundation
22. Employment Services at Westminster Centre for Independent Living
23. Enham College (RTC)
24. ERSA
25. Finchdale RTC
26. Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities
27. Hands Free Computing Ltd
28. Hao2.eu Ltd
29. Headway
30. Hertfordshire Action on Disability
31. Hillcrest Branch
32. Hudson Interpreting Services
33. Inclusion
34. Indigo Dyslexia
35. Ingeus
36. Kent County Council
37. Key Ring
38. KM Furniture Ltd
39. Lancashire County Council
40. Leicestershire Centre for Integrated Living
41. Low Incomes Tax Reform Group
42. Mencap
43. Mental Illness
44. Mind
45. Monmouth People First
46. National Association of Deafened People
47. NASUWT (teachers union)
48. Newco Employment and Training
49. North Bank Forum
50. Nottinghamshire Deaf Society
51. Papworth Trust
52. People First
53. Pluss
54. Queen Alexandra College (RTC)
55. Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation (RTC)
56. Reed in Partnership
57. Rethink
58. Royal British Legion Industries
59. Royal College of Nursing
60. Royal College of Psychiatrists
61. Royal National College for the Blind (RTC)
62. RNIB
63. RNID
64. Scope
65. Scottish Association for Mental Health
66. Scottish Autism Service
67. Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance
68. Sense
69. Shout Out
70. Signature
71. Slough Council
72. Social Firms FRC Group
73. St. Annes (social firm)
74. St Loye’s (RTC)
75. St Mungo’s
76. Sustainable Hub of Innovative Employment for People with Complex Needs (SHIEC)
77. The Association of National Specialist Colleges
78. The Coalition of RTC Providers (covers all nine residential colleges)
79. The Small Business Consultancy
80. Transition Information Network
81. Travel Matters UK
82. UNITE
83. UNUM
84. Vangent
85. Visibility
86. Vocational Rehabilitation Association
87. Welsh Assembly Government
88. Woman at Wish
89. Work Fit

Liz and the review team met with people from a wide range of other organisations including, among others, People First, National Centre for Independent Living, Disability Wales, Inclusion Scotland, the Employers’ Forum on Disability, Remploy, the TUC, GMB, Social Policy Research Unit, Centre for Mental Health, Disability Alliance, Sense, UNITE, RNIB, Mencap, the Scottish Union for Supported Employment, a range of central government departments, Essex Coalition of Disabled People and many more.

N.B we do not suggest that those appearing on this list are all in favour of closure of the Remploy factories, but the list is telling, more so because DPAC also responded to this consultation and don’t seem to get a mention. The DPAC consultation response can be found here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disabled Peoples’ organisations support saving Remploy Jobs: letter published in print and online versions of Guardian

 Action, All Posts, Disability Rights, media, News, Politics, Welfare reforms  Comments Off on Disabled Peoples’ organisations support saving Remploy Jobs: letter published in print and online versions of Guardian
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

Apr 222012
 

SAVE REMPLOY –  PUBLIC MEETING
THURSDAY 26TH APRIL 6.30 – 8.30 PM
AT
FARADAY HOUSE

48-51 Old Gloucester Street
London, WC1N 3AE
(Opposite Unite’s Holborn Office car park)

 

As a result of the damning Sayce Report on funding for disabled workers last year Remploy has announced the closure of 36 of its 54 factories. The first closures are imminent; and the remaining 18 will be forced to shut by the end of 2013 if they cannot reduce the subsidy for per disabled factory worker.

THERE WILL NOT BE ANY ‘BIG’ NAMES ON THE TOP TABLE
THIS MEETING IS LED BY REMPLOY WORKERS PRESENT AND PAST
WE’VE LISTENED TO WHAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS TO SAY ON THE CLOSURES…

NOW COME AND HEAR WHAT THE REMPLOY WORKERS HAVE TO SAY!

Join us in the fight to save Remploy

Apr 182012
 

 

Starting at Leicester Sq

 

Disabled people came from different parts of the country and assembled at Leicester Square and moved off towards Trafalgar Square. It started raining intermittently. Police accompanied us and were not happy that we were on the road. They tried to get information and we heard them asking what were our plans but none of us spoke to them.

Arriving at Trafalgar Square, 2 groups of wheelchair users split up and block up two junctions. Police tried to get us off the street while activists chanted and voiced their protests.

 
In the pouring rain the activists stayed put inspite of the police trying to move us on and the drummers kept spirits up while we chatted and handed out post cards to passer bys.

drummers

the Scottish contingent

Time went by very quicky and we decided to finish at 4pm and ended then. Thank you everybody for making it such a success! Rights not Charity!

More photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/disabledpeopleprotest/sets/72157629847654023/with/6945227156/

http://www.demotix.com/news/1162942/disabled-people-against-cuts-demonstration-held-london

More news from the Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/apr/18/disability-benefits-cuts-protest-trafalgar-square?CMP=twt_gu

from Harpy Marx http://harpymarx.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/todays-block-the-road/

from Johny Void http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/disabled-protesters-bring-traffic-chaos-to-central-london/

DPAC is on twitter : @dis_ppl_protest

and on Face Book under :DPAC

Apr 082012
 

Speakers

John McDonnell MP
Les Woodward GMB
National Convenor of Remploy
Gail Cartmail Unite Assistant General Secretary
Rob Murthwaite Disabled People Against Cuts

Meeting
Thursday 19 April 7.30pm

University of London Union
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HY
Disabled access via Malet street entrance. Adapted toilet on second floor. Disabled accessible lift.

The announcement by Maria Miller, Tory Secretary for Work and Pensions, that she would close 54 Remploy factories in a two phase attack on disabled people must be fought and challenged by the whole of the Trade Union, Labour and Disability movement.

This attack is a despicable act of barbarism and nasty vindictiveness against the company and its employees. What this act of barbarism will achieve, however, will be misery, poverty and a very early grave for the vast majority of Remploy
workers. Workers who will be paying the ultimate price with their jobs for the economic crisis that they had no part in causing nor benefited from, unlike the multi millionaire bankers and the very good multi millionaire friends in the Cabinet who are doing very nicely, thank you very much out of this crisis.
Tory ministers claim Remploy factories are ineffi cient but fail to mention they handed out £1.8 million in bonuses to Remploy bosses who have deliberately run
down the company in order to ease the way for closure of the factories.

With 6 people chasing every job vacancy in Britain, it is transparently dishonest of the Tories to say the closures are part of a plan to get disabled people into other workplaces. Of the workers made redundant in the round of closures
in 2007 only 6% have found alternative employment.

Instead of slashing jobs and wrecking lives the government should invest and give disabled workers the power to make Remploy the workplace they want.
This is an attack that can be stopped. When construction bosses tried to cut pay for electricians by 35% they fought back and won against huge fi rms like Balfour Beatty. Remploy workers can win too, but like the ‘sparks’ they will need solidarity from the movement to support their struggle. Please come to this
meeting and show your support.

Remploy Workers will not go quietly into the night, we will not go
quietly anywhere!
Remploy factories are not for closure and not for sale at any price!

    DPAC logo

Apr 042012
 

Date: Friday, 20th April 2012
Time: Assembly Midday
Place: Outside the Department of Work and Pensions, Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9NA
Rally: March to Old Palace Yard, Westminster (opposite Parliament) for Rally with Speakers

We must show the strength of feeling that taking jobs from disabled people should not be tolerated in a civilised society.

Transport is being arranged from all Remploy London sites.  For information contact: julie.haynes@remploy.co.uk

It would be helpful if you can register to attend by clicking http://fight4remploy.eventbrite.co.uk/

Please come – and bring your friends – and bring your families too!!

 

On 7th March Remploy announced its intention to close all of its factories with the

 

potential compulsory redundancy of 1,752 mostly disabled workers. The joint Unions are

 

committed to fighting to save the Remploy factories and our members’ jobs.

 

We must show the strength of feeling that taking jobs from disabled people should not

 

be tolerated in a civilised society. It will not improve the country’s financial situation – it

 

may well make it worse.

 

Join us in the fight to save Remploy


www.uniteforoursociety.org

Mar 232012
 

FURIOUS disabled workers protested yesterday against the boss whose report led to the Con-Dem Government closing their factories.

A group of workers from Remploy picketed a conference where Liz Sayce, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, was speaking.

Remploy chief shop steward Phil Branann said:

“We think it is an insult to disabled people and society in general for her to attend that meeting.

“Employers won’t employ disabled people – they are three times more likely to be unemployed.

“If it’s so easy to find employment, why not wait until the workers have found jobs before closing the factories?”

 

read the rest at http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/2012/03/23/furious-workers-hit-out-at-boss-whose-report-led-to-remploy-factories-getting-the-axe-86908-23798745/

Read also DPAC’s  London Meeting Unites Resistance to Remploy Closures

Mar 092012
 

The standard response of the disability movement (whatever that is these days) has been to say no to segregated employment – they’ve said that since the 70s. The government mantra which insists that ‘work is good for you’ now seems to sit in an even more unbelievable place than it did a week ago after the closing 36 of the 54 Remploy factories. What’s more a set of formal disability organisations seem to think it was a good idea for up to 2,000 disabled people to join the current regime of trying to claim benefits in one of the worst ever social and economic periods to become unemployed. So now they’re doing the government’s dirty work for them. Is unemployment preferable to segregation?

This is not the 70s- its 2012. Those not in work are being pursued by a regime of Atos testing repeated assessments and loss of income, or  being put on JSA and workfare placements, all are labelled scroungers and frauds.  Organisations take up more and more church halls  every day to provide food parcels,  people are being left without any income, suicide rates amongst disabled people are increasing, unemployment is at an all time high, many disabled people have lost jobs and rates of unemployment for disabled people, like those of every other group, are increasing. The difference for disabled people is that when the employment market is good we have half of the rate of non-disabled people in employment. It is more difficult for disabled people to find employment and very little has been done to change that. So how can any disability organisation ‘back’ more disabled people being thrown into this situation-who are disability organisations working for?

It’s down to the Sayce report and review. In a nutshell this said that Remploy factories cost too much for the government to run and if the government closed the factories, then it could put more money into Access to Work and support more disabled people-many were sold on this but isn’t it all a bit too simple?

Access to Work have been restricting and changing criteria since 2010, making employers pay more for changes, reducing the list of items that could be claimed from AtW and have hounded those on AtW in an effort to get them off it. Will we see charges for employers reduced? The list of items that can be claimed for under AtW increased? Or a lessening of the hounding of those with learning difficulties and others by AtW?

We don’t think so either – neither will we see the itemised cost of this ‘independent’ Sayce review rumoured to be 2 million pounds. In its response to the ‘independent’ Sayce review in September 2011 DPAC said:

DPAC proposes that the costs of the reports, individual payments, meetings and committees attached to the Sayce report are made transparent, the current rumour is a cost of 2 million pounds– DPAC suggests that this figure may have been of more use if half was put into Remploy factories with the remainder making up for the increasing cuts being administered to AtW which is curtailing disabled peoples’ opportunities to work.

DPAC also said:

The ‘independent’ Sayce consultation is a remarkable volt face from the government and a shameful collusion by a disability charity in an agenda that will do very little, if anything to aid disabled peoples’ employment, conversely it appears to seek backing to make more disabled people unemployed through the closure of Remploy factories

Of course as we have seen with other consultations and reviews the formula of ‘they ask and do it anyway’ applies. The decision had already been made. The Sayce report also claimed that 100% of disability organisations said Remploy should close, DPAC said:

It is ironic that the ‘independent’ Sayce report seeks to remove the specialist or segregated employment in Remploy factories (backed by the rather dubious claim that 100% of disability organisations said Remploy factories should close), while at the same time the coalition government seeks to substantially increase levels of segregated schooling.

In the recent press releases from Miller and RADAR we have seen nothing of one part of the review : a question that asked: Do you agree that Remploy’s Employment Services should be sold and transformed into a mutual, social enterprise or other model? DPAC said:

Remploy workers and their unions should be consulted on this; they should have been consulted from the first…Remploy factories should continue to be subsidized, it is the management and board structure that should be removed with control going to disabled people as workers and their unions.

So why aren’t the formal disabled peoples’ organisations all calling for this and backing disabled people at Remploy?

Only one person from a formal disability organisation mentioned this:

 Julie Newman, acting chair of the UK Disabled People’s Council, said the idea of sheltered, segregated workplaces belonged in the last century, but disabled Remploy workers should be supported to take control of factories themselves, setting up user-led social enterprises.

If the formal disability organisations cannot start to wake up to the reality of life under this government for most disabled people then they should at least pay some attention to the criticism of Les Woodward who said:

I cannot see how making the best part of 2,000 people redundant is going to advance the disability agenda one iota.

He called on them to visit and talk with Remploy workers. We call on them, and especially Liz Sayce to do so too. We also call on them to challenge the government on the proposal of Remploy workers developing their own social enterprises run and controlled by disabled people, because the words and actions they’ve issued so far do not suggest that they are on the side of disabled people anymore




The e-petition to save Remploy factories is at: http://www.saveremployfactories.co.uk/

 

Jul 062011
 

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.

Les Woodward

National Convenor Remploy Trade Union Consortium

Personal Capacity.