Workers at Fife factory begin 24 hour strike as union negotiators prepare to hold face-to-face talks with new DWP minister, Esther McVey

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Remploy workers have stepped up their campaign of industrial action over the Coalition government’s closures plan.

Unite members at Remploy’s Cowdenbeath factory are on a 24-hour strike for the second time in less than a fortnight.

It comes against what unions describe as ‘a backdrop of total silence’ from the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP).

They say the future of the workforce remains at the mercy of interest from private buyers – something workers fear will lead to inevitable cuts and redundancies.

Unite shop steward at Remploy Cowdenbeath Linda Menzies said: “The silence from the DWP & Remploy senior management is the biggest factor in our struggle now.

“As a result, we can only expect the worst case scenario so we have to fight – a life on the dole doesn’t bear thinking about for this workforce.”

Union negotiators have been trying to wrest information from the company and DWP officials about a number of organisations which are thought to be bidding to take over nine Remploy factories across the UK.

The fate of other sites, such as Cowdenbeath – which is earmarked for closure next year – remains unclear.

UnionNews understands officials are due to meet the newly-appointed Disabilities Minister, Esther McVey, tomorrow.

Unite regional industrial officer Lyn Turner said: “The way these workers are being treated is cold and shameful.

“We urgently need our politicians to come together, work with our members to highlight their struggle and come up with a solution that saves these essential jobs.

“We can’t call ourselves a decent society if we are prepared to sit back and let these vulnerable workers be thrown on the unemployment scrapheap in a time of economic recession.”

Unions say the employment status of thousands of vulnerable workers across the UK has been threatened by the Government’s Access to Work policy, underpinned by the findings from the Sayce Report, which recommends disabled people should be mainstreamed into the labour market in the midst of a second recession in four years.

Workers at a string of Remploy factories across the country have given notice of further strike action planned for next month and unions are also preparing to lobby the annual conferences of the three main parties over the coming weeks.


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