Remploy worker carries Olympic torch on Friday . . . but how long will he have a job?

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An Essex man with a learning disability – due to carry the Olympic torch on Friday – faces the dole queue, as the coalition gears up to close 54 Remploy factories.

Thirty four-year-old Tony Collins, who works at the Remploy factory in Barking, will be running with the torch along the A129 High Street, Rayleigh, Essex, from Ridgeway to Orchard Avenue.

His run is expected to start at 10.41am Friday, 6 July and he will be wearing number 45.

Tony and more than 1,500 disabled colleagues face a grim future on the dole when the 36 Remploy factories close in the near future. The remaining 18 sites are due to close or be sold-off next year.

Tony, who lives in Rainham, has been employed recycling computers for resale at the Barking site for 13 years, getting up at 5.00am to get to work – and has never been late for work during that entire period.

Unite’s national officer for the not-for-profit sector, Sally Kosky said: “Tony’s case is one just example of a hardworking Remploy worker who faces a life on the dole because of the cruel policies of Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith.”

Tony’s mother, Kathy Collins said: “Tony is desperate to work – he does not want to live on benefits. His work involves cleaning data off computers which are then recycled for sale.

“Remploy provides an environment that Tony and hundreds of others can thrive, make a useful contribution to society, and have financial independence and self-respect.

“If the Barking factory is closed, the chances of Tony getting another job are extremely slim, even if the economy were booming, which it is not. We are asking for Iain Duncan Smith to rethink his misguided policies and keep the Remploy factories open.”

Tony was an international middle distance runner for the England and GB learning disabled squads and represented his country across the globe.

Unite points out that closing the Remploy factories does not make economic sense and cites the recent upbeat assessment of Remploy’s future prospects from Alan Hill, Managing Director, Remploy Enterprise Businesses who wrote that: “We have grown our sales by 12.2%, a fantastic achievement.”


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