24 Aug 2012 00:00
PAUL ROUTLEDGE COLUMN
Disabled can go for gold in Paralympics but can't earn brass
Britain today welcomes the Paralympics competitors, while David Cameron sacks thousands in Remploy factories
IF you’re disabled, you can compete for your country in the Paralympics.
But you can’t work for it, under this Tory-led government.
Britain today welcomes a second swathe of competitors to London 2012, while David Cameron sacks thousands of men and women in Remploy factories.
Twenty two closed down last week, throwing 1,000 on to benefits.
The works at Oldham and Worksop will shut today. Swansea follows next week, as the Paralympics get under way.
It takes hypocrisy of the highest level to attack the handicapped at such an emotional time, but our heartless, two-faced Prime Minister is equal to the task.
Cameron puts out the welcome mat for disabled athletes from round the world, while handing out P45s to workers in government-supported employment here at home.
There have been harrowing scenes of desolation on the shopfloor.
Some workers with mental health problems couldn’t even understand what was being done to them. And some managers didn’t have the guts to bid them goodbye.
Few will complain about the huge cost of the Paralympics, but it’s a bitter pill to swallow for disabled workers paying with their jobs for Coalition cuts in public spending.
People like Mrs Dorothy Mellor, 53, of Hemsworth, victim of a stroke as a six-month old baby, who found employment at the Remploy factory in Pontefract where she met her husband Stephen, a spina bifida sufferer.
Last Friday, husband and wife, both with 30 years’ service, were made redundant.
They have little chance of finding work. 90 per cent of Remploy staff previously made redundant are still jobless.
“What good is the Paralympics being on television when they shut Remploy down?” asks Mrs Mellor. “It’s like the end of a life,” said her husband. “We came to Remploy because of our disabilities. There wasn’t anywhere else to go then, and I can’t see there being anywhere else to go now.”
People like Brian Davies, 52, the GMB shop steward in Wigan Remploy, wheelchair-bound with brittle bones, made redundant on the same day. He told me: “There were people only 30 or 40 years old, crying, saying ‘this is the end, we won’t work any more’, It’s disgusting.”
Ironically, Brian won four gold medals for track and swimming in the Les Autres international disabled games in Norway in 1981.
He added: “The whole idea of the Paralympics is that you get disabled people together and compete.
“So, we can compete at sport – but we can’t work together.”
Remploy workers say: “We want to work. We don’t want to live on benefits.” But that’s the bleak future facing 2,800 disabled employees. 36 factories from Ashington to Wrexham, and Bolton to Motherwell are closing to satisfy an ideological obsession with free labour markets.
The GMB showed how Remploy plants could break even by 2017, but the government, driven by a visceral hatred of unions, didn’t listen.
Millionaire Cabinet ministers, basking in the reflected glory of a successful London 2012, even ignored a public petition to use the goodwill generated by the Paralympics to save Remploy.
Just remember this parable of hypocrisy when you next hear the Tory bastards bleat about “caring Conservatism”.
OP: Remploy is a government-run firm in the UK which provides employment for disabled people. Instead of going after big corporation (and Tory donors) that don't pay their full whack of tax, they go after Remploy instead. Fuckers.