Sanctions and Workfare May Await Remploy Workers

The Government’s brutal decision to throw disabled Remploy workers on the scrapheap is the latest attack on disabled people by the most hostile Government in living memory.  Maria Killer Miller, the Minister for Disability, yesterday confirmed the closure of 27 Remploy factories, meaning the loss of 1,700 jobs.

Shamefully several disability charities, such as Mencap, have backed the factory closures.  Charities claim the factories are old fashioned, as if their organisations, steeped as they are in Victorian paternalism, represent the cutting edge of social care.

This isn’t an argument about workplace segregation, which most people accept is not an ideal solution.  But if we lived in an ideal world then disability charities wouldn’t exist.  Society, meaning all of us, not government, would take care of the needs of everybody without busy-body middle class charity workers sticking their noses into people’s lives.

The debate over the Remploy closures is an argument about basic fucking humanity.  The question is simply whether disability charities are content to destroy the lives of almost 2000 workers in the name of non-existent inclusivity in the capitalist workplace.  And the answer to that is yes they are.

It is a sad fact that greedy employers discriminate against disabled people.  The cruel and unnecessary closures of the Remploy factories will not change that one bit.  All it will achieve is condemning 1,700 workers to the most brutal manifestation of the Welfare State possibly ever seen in a developed economy.

The charities supporting the closures have lucrative sub-contracts under the Work Programme, the scheme that is currently failing miserably at helping anybody find work.  Charities no doubt hope that former Remploy workers will be referred to them, where under threat of benefit sanctions they will be forced into often pointless and inane ‘job search’ activities.  Once again disability charities have pitted their own financial self-interest against the needs and opinions of disabled people.

These charities however may find themselves in for a shock.  Under the welfare system as it currently operates, many former Remploy workers will be forced into making an application for the sickness and disability benefit Employment Support allowance (ESA).  To do this they will need to attend a Work Capability Assessment (WCA) with poverty pimps Atos, a private company notorious for stripping benefits from as many disabled people as possible.

The WCA assumes that should a claimant demonstrate the ability to carry out any form of work then they should be placed on Job Seekers Allowance rather than ESA.  Remploy workers are likely to find their time as the factories is used against them to prove they are ‘fit for work’.

Far from languishing on sickness or disability benefits, these workers will then be forced into the brutal workfare and sanctions regime currently inflicted on those claiming unemployment benefits.  Jobcentre staff are not usually trained in disability issues. Disabled workers may find themselves sent on Mandatory Work Activity should a Jobcentre advisor decide they aren’t trying hard enough to find work.  With a savage irony, disabled people could find themselves forced to work without pay in one of the shops run by the very charities who supported the Remploy closures.

Should they not find a job quick enough – and research suggests that almost no-one finds work after being declared ‘fit for work’ – then under new rules they could be sentenced to up to six months workfare.

If, due to sickness or disability,they are not able to attend everyday, then they will face benefit sanctions, meaning loss of some or all vital support.  Should they not be able to show up to workfare three times then they could have benefits stopped for three years.

This is the hell that Liz Sayce, Chairperson of RADAR, who recommended the Remploy closures, has inflicted on disabled workers.  The worst case scenario is disabled workers being stripped of benefits and forced into poverty and quite likely homelessness.  As we have seen so many times in the benefits system, the worst case scenario very often turns out to be standard practice.  The Atos assessment system, under which people are judged ‘fit for work’ only to die of their conditions shortly afterwards, is testament to that.

The fight to save Remploy is not over.  Remploy workers have already voted to strike against the plans.  With even some sections of the right wing press opposed to the closures it is possible, of sadly unlikely, that the Government may back down.  Even if they don’t Remploy workers aren’t going anywhere without a fight which is a struggle we should all support.

10 responses to “Sanctions and Workfare May Await Remploy Workers

  1. defytheeconomy

    Reblogged this on defytheeconomy and commented:
    Its much easier to punish the poor than take on the voluntary sector. God bless marketisation and its disenfranchising effects.

  2. The impression I get is that this fake charity is deliberately helping to impoverish the disabled. Probably because then they’ll have more “clients” to patronise. Sick.

  3. Pingback: Sanctions and Workfare May Await Remploy Workers | Social Welfare News |

  4. Eric Greenwood

    He he he g4s : Military to provide up to 3,500 extra troops because G4S unable to supply 10,000 guards it promised to deliver

  5. I can’t believe that even the Tories could behave in such a disgraceful manner in closing these Remploy factories. There must be some end to the “if it doesn’t make a profit, then it must close” mentality. The GMBH union produced some alarming figures from the 2008 Remploy cuts, I’d like some independent organisation to track and report on a large proportion of these Remploy workers and follow their progress back into employment or otherwise.

  6. 13 weeks is the period recommended by the goverment for a first sanctionable ‘offence’.
    That’s the first transgression (and we all know how they trump this shit up).
    Good luck being disabled and living on nothing for three months.
    I bet the money ‘saved’ by the valiant efforts of that evil cow, Miller, woudl barely cover Cameron’s bar tab for PMQ’s at the Parlament wine bar.

  7. john spamlicker

    johnny void is bang on with what he is saying,about remploy I no this because I was in similar situation they will have to claim a benefit, they will fill in a form,then go for a medical, and any one who as attended one of these and told they are now fit to work based on some mad decision like well he could move one of his eye balls so we find him fit for work, the fact that they have been working will automatically mean that they wont qualify for (esa) and have to claim job seekers,

    there next problem will be if they receive any money (a pay off) or have savings this will effect there claim,then when they have got over that problem they will have to sign on ,the first thing they will be asked are you fit for work,your reply will be yes if you want some money, or no if you want to go back to the beginning you are either in or out ,these people are not there to help you, they are there to meet targets and receive a wage hoping all the time they don’t end up on your side of the desk,

    you will now be told you need a CV so you can send it out for job vacancies and they need to keep a copy on there system, if you don’t have a CV this is OK because they can arrange for you to have some one help you do one, and where do you think they send you? REMPLOY , yep that right ,

    but don’t worry they have plenty of other places to send you for a CV, in fact its so profitable running these courses that they give them a fancy name and call them employability courses,

    so you now have your CV and you think I could do with up dating my skills,and maybe you here about EUROPEAN SOCIAL FUND and after reading about how this could help you and what it was set up for, you enquire in the job centre if you could go on a course,and to your delight you are told yes,you can go on any course you want as long as its a employability course,

    so you attend this second employability course thinking well I might learn something, and you do, you learn on all there paper work the words European social fund, and if you look really close you see words like we may use this for further payment?

    So a few months in a couple of cvs under your belt,you ask at the jobcenter is there any courses or funding you no about, and to your amazement they say yes,its a firm called NEXT-STEP they find training and funding,your then told you will probably need 2 appointments with them, and if you are at this point a bit wary of them and ask its not another course on cvs or how to make sure you put your shoes on the Wright feet is it? They say no because the have access to government funds they can find you something,well you would have to be a bit stupid to pass up on a opportunity like this so you say im in, sign me up where do I go,there reply will be ,do you see that man sat in the corner on that little table on his lap top that him,

    now your back at the job centre up to now its took about 3 months but this time your sat with a man in the corner who as his Owen computer and acssess to funds , he says he is doing me a action plan ,OK off we go hes asking questions about everything I thought this is just like one of them surveys but we crack on for a hour hes putting all this info on me in his computer he apologises and tells me I think we need another hour session, so I book another for the next week,

    im back again one week later more information into is computer, he tells me he needs to do all this to put a action plan together, 10 mins till the end of the hour session all the data is in lets enter it into the system he says,congratulations what the computer is recommending for your action plan is you need is to go on a employability course and look at finding funding to update your work skills,oh and can you just sigh these forms so we can get payed,

    so now you have 3 cvs and employability courses and a ACTION PLAN you will be now becoming up to the time the job centre tell you they can do nothing more for you and sign you over to the work programme, and through all this progresses G4S have been in the back ground patrolling the job centre providing security,

    so off I go to the work programme witch is run by G4S, now call me paranoid but isnt this how your standard protection racket is run (WE WILL PUT OUR SECURITY ON THE DOOR AND YOU WILL BUY OUR PRODUCT)

    just come from my work placement program first session,asked about would I be able to go on some training programmes to improve my skills, there reply was we will see, but first we need to up date your CV, because the 3 cvs that I now have are old and plus they are no good was there comment

    so apart from that everything is fine,i cant wait to be sent on work experience, yes thats right I cant wait, ive been reading about all these people getting sanctioned for not conforming to there regimen, im going to go at it from a different angle, im going to act like a cross between frank Spencer and Mr bean, and when ive caused absolute chaos to where ever they send me,lets see if they sanction me for been stupid.

  8. Pingback: Cleaners, tenants and Remploy workers taking action | Cautiously pessimistic

  9. Pingback: ‘Remploy factory workers strike to save jobs’ or ‘Brixton to Barking by bus’ « Izzy Koksal

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