Remploy pickets strong in Stoke

Submitted by AWL on 24 July, 2012 - 12:26

I was on the picket line at the Remploy factory at Trentham Lakes, Stoke-on-Trent on Thursday 19 July.

About 50 people braved the rain to show their solidarity, with banners from the striking unions Unite and GMB, as well as UNISON, CWU, PCS, North Staffordshire Trades Union Council and North Staffordshire Against Cuts. Representatives of several other unions were also there to show their solidarity - including NUT, Musicians' Union, and the ceramic workers' union Unity [sic].

Local Labour MPs Joan Walley (Stoke North) and Rob Flello (Stoke South) came along to show their support, as well as Gareth Snell, Labour leader of the neighbouring local authority, Newcastle-under-Lyme.

The Stoke Remploy factory is one of the 27 which the Tories plan to close. It employs 114 disabled workers in a variety of jobs, including assembly for car companies and book binding. Virtually all the workforce were out on strike on Thursday.

Remploy worker Stephen Stanyer, who has worked there for 22 years, said: " The last thing I want to happen is for me to lose my job here and to be sat at home 24/7. It's disgusting how the Government are treating us and they should be ashamed of themselves."

Joanne O'Connor, who has worked there for 16 years, said: "Everyone has been feeling down and miserable since it was announced the factory could close. There aren't enough jobs out there for able-bodied people at the minute, so how are we going to find employment if we lose our jobs?"

The campaign to save the Stoke Remploy factory has had widespread support, and is backed by the local Trades Council and North Staffordshire Against Cuts. As Colin Hanley, Unite steward at the factory, said: "The massive support we have had for the demonstration shows just how strongly everybody feels about these closures".

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