Workers at a Norwich factory are on the picket line today with the warning that its closure would leave disabled employees “on the scrapheap”.

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Remploy in Norwich employs 26 disabled people in its workforce of 39, but faces an uncertain future amid government cuts.

Nationally, 36 of the 54 facilities have been told they are at risk of closure, and though the packaging factory in Norwich is not one of them, unions fear it will be part of “Phase Two” as the government re-routes funding from subsidised employment into other ways to get disabled people into work.

Ian Carr, shop steward for the Unite union, who organised the strike with the GMB, called the cuts “appalling”.

“Most of these people won’t find jobs elsewhere. This is meaningful work, where they are working on multi-million-pound machinery and making a contribution to society.

“The idea that these factories are institutionalising people is wrong. They give a purpose to disabled people.”

Mr Carr said unions were concerned about the transfer of employees’ terms and conditions if the Norwich factory, in Paddock Street, off Heigham Street, were to be sold to a private bidder.

He added: “We know most of these employees will never again work somewhere like this. They will be pushing trolleys or handing out leaflets in a supermarket. That’s not meaningful work.”

Harvey Cann, shop steward for the GMB, has learning difficulties and has worked at the factory for 22 years, having joined at 18.

He said: “Most employers won’t touch us with a barge pole – they can’t see past the disability. They don’t see the skills we have.

“When it comes to jobs, the disabled person won’t get a look-in.”

He said disabled people would be “easy prey” for managers to let go if factories were sold off in future.

“People with disabilities are severely penalised and even bullied.

“It’s simple – there won’t be a future for us. We will be left on the scrapheap.”

3 comments

  • Disabled workers going on strike to try to save their jobs; how this shames the government which both Ms Smith and Mr Wright both support.

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    Paul Cunningham

    Thursday, July 19, 2012

  • Research by the GMB union revealed that 90% of disabled Remploy workers who took voluntary redundancy 18 months ago under a similar package of support have failed to find work. "It's not for want of trying," GMB said. "But no one wants them."The Remploy workers are just collateral damage to a government that could not give a flying fig,or words to that effect.

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    Peter Watson

    Thursday, July 19, 2012

  • Another sad indightment for the state of society under this coalition of party politicians, when you can't afford to keep the disabled employed but can eagerly train in the skies above and prepare for another war in the middle east, shame on you Cameron, Clegg Osborne and Chloe Smith.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, July 19, 2012

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