Thursday, 28 March 2013

GPTU supports Brighton council over bedroom tax

A council has declared that none of its social tenants will be evicted if they cannot 
afford to pay the government's forthcoming bedroom tax.Brighton and  Hove City Council has become the first local authority in the country to take such a stance.
Councillor Liz Wakefield said: "The so-called 'spare room subsidy' is yet more immoral and harmful legislation from this morality-free coalition government.

"As Greens, we cannot throw people out onto the streets just because they're unable to pay it. I will therefore be bringing proposals that seek to ensure no household will be evicted from a Brighton and Hove City Council owned home as a result of ‘spare room subsidy’ rent arrears accrued solely from that household's inability to pay this unjust bedroom tax."

She added that steps would be taken to ensure that tenants don't take advantage of the proposals, and that officers would have to be satisfied that those pushed into arrears by the bedroom tax were doing everything they could to pay their rent.

Brighton Pavilion MP, Caroline Lucas, is also backing the proposals. She said: "The so-called bedroom tax legislation is not only morally wrong and a cause of great potential hardship, it is also unworkable in a city with a long waiting list for smaller properties.

"The council cannot downsize households on the scale required by the government, nor would we want it to, and we should not be prepared to evict hard-pressed families, the disabled and other vulnerable people purely because they are unable to pay this unjust levy on a home they either cannot or should not have to leave.”

Chair of Brighton and Hove Green Party, Rob Shepherd, said: "This government is willing to see people thrown out onto the streets purely because they can't pay their bedroom tax.

"They can be sentenced to homelessness simply for trying to maintain a normal, liveable family home. The Conservative and LibDem coalition government should be ashamed of itself and, as Greens, we will have no part of it.

"I congratulate the party and councillors who are taking such a principled stand. We call on the other parties to support us in protecting, in this way, some of our most vulnerable residents."

acknowledgements to Wembley Matters

extract from gptu minutes 27/3/2013 

The meeting wished to congratulate Brighton Green councillors on their stance of no evictions of social tenants for non-payment of the ‘bedroom tax’.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Enough is enough: Celebrities, MPs, Trade Unions and campaigners pledge to end austerity Britain

see video of Caroline Lucas speaking at this event at
Press Release
26 March 2013
For immediate use

Enough is enough: Celebrities, 

MPs, Trade Unions and 

campaigners pledge to end

austerity Britain

After a disastrous budget, a failing economy and a government
of millionaires intent on making the poorest in society poorer,
a new movement against austerity will be launched to challenge
the government's austerity plans.

Press conference today with:
Caroline Lucas MP - Owen Jonesjournalist
Mark Steelcomedian Katy Clark MP -
Francesca Martinezcomedian and disabled activist 
Steve Turner, Unite the Union, 
Kevin Courtney, National Union of Teachers,
Zita HolbourneBlack Activists Rising Against the Cuts.

11:30am, Tuesday 26 March 2013
Unite the Union, 128 Theobald's Road
London WC1X 8TN

Thousands will converge at Westminster Central Hall on 
Saturday 22 June to plan a campaign that can play a key
role in ensuring that this uncaring government faces a 
movement of opposition broad enough and powerful 
enough to generate successful co-ordinated action, 
including strike action.

Supporters for the People's Assembly include:
Len McCluskey General secretary, Unite the Union
Mark Serwotka General secretary, PCS
Christine Blower General secretary, NUT
Michelle Stanistreet General secretary, NUJ
Manuel Cortez General secretary, TSSA
Billy Hayes General secretary, CWU
Bob Crow General secretary, RMT
Mick Whelan General secretary, Aslef
Jeremy Corbyn MP
John McDonnell MP
Murad Qureshi London assembly member
Tariq Ali Author
John Pilger Journalist
Ken Loach Filmmaker
Richard Wilson Actor
Lee Hall Playwright
Roger Lloyd Pack Actor
Josie Long Comedian
Iain Banks Author
Arthur Smith Comedian

Quotes from some of the participants include:
Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion (Green party):
“This Tory-led Government’s failed austerity drive and its shameful
attacks on the poorest and most vulnerable are devastating the
economy and destroying our social fabric.  With the worst of the 
cuts to welfare and public services still to come, the People’s 
Assembly Against Austerity is a once-in-a-generation opportunity 
to unite against this reckless administration and expose the lie
 that there is no alternative to cuts.  Now is the time to take a
stand alongside the millions of anti-austerity campaigners across
 Europe – and ask ourselves what kind of society we want to
 create for ourselves and for our children.”

Steve Turner from Unite the Union:
“For the last three years this government has exploited the
 global financial crisis to carry out an extreme ideological 
attack on everything that we hold dear in this country 
– our NHS, our welfare state, our public services.
The Tory-led agenda of austerity and spending cuts coupled
 with further privatisation of key services has proven to be 
an economic failure with borrowing up, key industries
collapsing and living standards depleted. George Osborne’s 
response to his own failure is more of the same.
In the face of this onslaught we need unity and solidarity.
Whether it’s communities campaigning against the privatisation 
of their local NHS services, mass marches against austerity 
or industrial action against bad employers we must join together
 to build a powerful campaign against this government and in
 favour of an alternative. Unite backs calls for a mass movement
 against the cuts and is supporting the People’s Assembly Against
 Austerity. Only by providing genuine popular opposition rooted 
across the country can we hope to bring to an end to this 
Coalition’s reckless slash and burn policies."

Comedian Mark Steel:
"If you've ever yelled at the television while George Osborne 
is on, or fumed at how the poor are made to pay for the mess 
created by the bankers, sign up to the People's Assembly. 
Then we can all tell and fume together, and that's how the 
world gets changed."

Francesca Martinez:
"I'm backing the Peoples' Asssembly because I don't believe 
either of the two main parties represent the interests of the 
citizens in this country. Their policies show that they represent 
the narrow agenda of the business elite which is proving to be 
very dangerous for democracy. It's time for the majority to demand 
a government and a system that puts people before profit, and 
that protects everybody's human rights."

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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Green Party supports tomorrow's PCS strike

Green Party supports tomorrow's PCS strike
GREEN Party leader Natalie Bennett will tomorrow (Wednesday) morning
be speaking at a PCS Union rally outside the Euston Tower in Central
London in support of the union’s budget day protest, expressing support
for PCS members on strike that day across the country.

Natalie said: “The union is rightly calling for decent pay for all civil
servants this year, while pointing out to the government that this
 – and many other steps to reverse its austerity programme – could
be paid for by serious action against wealthy tax dodgers.”

A union report has demonstrated that since the start of recession in
2008 the real value of wages has fallen by 7%, more than £50 billion
 a year. The report also found that median pay in the civil service is
4.4% lower than direct private sector comparators. In some grades,
the gap was 10%. It is calling for a 5% rise in civil service pay this
 year to keep pace with inflation, and an end to reduction in
pension rights.

The union represents, among others, customs, immigration, benefits
and Jobcentre staff.

Natalie said: "Congratulations to the PCS for rightly identifying the
importance of tackling tax evasion in rebalancing our economy. David
Cameron has said he wants to act on the issue, but has failed to take
any meaningful concrete steps.

“To save time, I’d point him to Green MP Caroline Lucas’s 2011 Tax
and Financial Transparency Bill, which set out how the government could
 force companies to ‘publish what tax they pay’, requiring all companies
filing accounts in the UK to include a statement on the turnover, pre-tax
profit, tax charge and actual tax paid for each country in which they
operate, without exception. He could simply move that as a government
bill, and take a big stride towards collecting money the UK is owed.”

Natalie added that the PCS call for fair pay for all civil servants and for
all contracts to be underpinned by the living wage, would be a small step
towards rebalancing the UK economy, in which the wage share had fallen 
from around 60% to 55%, with a great increase in the inequality of the
distribution of those wages.

“We need to make the minimum wage a living wage – that is an immediate
step the government should take, but in the meantime, ensuring that
government outsourcing meets this basic standard is an important step.”

Natalie added: “It is clear that we need to not only reverse George
Osborne’s austerity agenda, and invest in the infrastructure we desperately
 need – including energy conservation, renewable energy, but also to move 
towards a living wage economy with jobs that workers can build a life on.”


Monday, 18 March 2013

PCS budget day strike - London event

Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2013 13:49:29 +0000
Subject: PCS budget day strike - London event

Dear all
As hopefully you will be aware PCS are taking a 1 day strike on Wednesday - budget day. We have organised a event outside parliament for the duration of the budget and will have a big screen which will show the budget and there will be a small number of speakers.
The event is right by college green and should be very visible to the press.
Please see below the Facebook event page for the event. I would be very grateful if you could circulate it to your organisations and relevant contact groups and publicise in which ever way you are able. It will be good to see you if you can make it too.
Thanks Nick
Nick McCarthy
PCS Campaigns, Communications and Organising Dept

Tel: 020 7801 2820
Twitter: @nickmccpcs

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Monday, 11 March 2013

TUC pre-budget rally 13/3/2013

Rally date: 13 March, 18.00-19.30. Location: The Emmanuel Centre, Westminster

Ordinary families are paying the price for an economic slump they did nothing to cause.

With prices rising and wages held back, living standards are under attack. Public services are being slashed across the country, as jobs are cut. Millions – both employed and unemployed – will see benefits fail to keep up with prices.
Yet this April the 50p tax for the richest will be cut, and ministers press on with austerity policies that hold back growth and threaten a triple dip recession.

It’s time to change course and build a future that works – starting with the budget due on March 20.

The TUC will be putting the pressure on Chancellor George Osborne to change course, with a public rally in Westminster on the evening of 13 March, from 6pm.
Please register for a place at the Rally, or if you can’t make it to London, please pledge to watch the Rally online. We’ll be streaming it live and planning a series of online actions that people can take to make a huge noise about the budget that the Chancellor won’t be able to ignore.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Weds 13th March: ‘Gove Must Go’ March

Weds 13th March: ‘Gove Must Go’ March
Organised by the National Union of Teachers.
Starts 5pm from near London Victoria Station (Cathedral Piazza) to the Department of Education.

Tell Gove he must listen

The NUT Executive on 28 February reaffirmed its commitment to taking further strike action, if necessary, to protect our pensions, pay structure, and working conditions. The NUT is engaged in discussions with the NASUWT about continuing our campaign through joint strike action. More information on these discussions will follow soon.
The NUT remains committed to resolving our dispute. Michael Gove must end the constant attacks on teachers and their damaging consequences for teacher morale. The Government must reconsider its decision to increase the pension age to 68 or even higher and increase pension contributions at a time of a pay freeze. They must also drop proposals to dismantle the current pay structure, impose school based decision-making and impose PRP on all teachers.
Please click here to email your MP to say that Michael Gove’s position is unacceptable and that he needs to listen to teachers and enter into negotiations on these crucial issues.

Government attack on our pay system confirmed The Government is pressing ahead with its plans to tear up the national teacher pay system and with its damaging changes to our pensions. Michael Gove wants to dismantle the national pay structure and introduce performance related pay for all teachers. The new School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions document will be published at the start of the summer term and governing bodies will begin to adopt new pay policies.
This is a moment of extreme danger for our profession. The longstanding national pay system is being broken up, taking away teachers’ legitimate pay progression expectations, on top of the attack on our pensions.
Without progress through negotiation, strike action is inevitable. Unions can not stand back when their members are threatened in this way.

acknowledgements to Martin Francis  & NUT

Monday, 4 March 2013

Cleaners at the John Lewis Partnership are to ballot for strike action

acknowledgements to

Cleaners at the John Lewis Partnership are to ballot for strike action at the flagship Oxford Street store. This is the first step in the revived campaign to win the Living Wage for all cleaners employed by John Lewis.
The Industrial Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) which represents the 33 cleaners at the store has served a formal ‘notice of dispute’ with sub-contractor Integrated Cleaning Management (ICM) who employs the outsourced cleaners
On Thursday 7th March John Lewis will announce it annual bonus for in-house staff. The company is expected to announce a 17% increase of its annual profits of £415 million in the year to January 2013; this follows bumper sales with John Lewis making £684.8 million in the Christmas period.
However, the cleaners at John Lewis who are excluded from the partnership scheme are denied any share of the company’s profits.
IWGB General Secretary Chris Ford says:
Like their snowman John Lewis has a heart of ice. The cleaners are second class citizens, good enough to clean the toilets but not to share in the profits they help make. We made an agreement with the sub-contractor ICM of a meaningful review with the aim to move toward the London Living Wage as the cleaning contract came up for renewal. Now they have amnesia and ignore our request for talks.
John McDonnell MP who has campaigned for justice for the cleaners says:
I went on the picket lines outside Schroders bank in the City and outside John Lewis, whose cleaners are also paid the minimum wage or, in some instances, just above. The cleaners were getting up at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning and travelling to work by bus because the tube was too expensive for them. The general expression that was used by the cleaners in these cases was, “We are treated like dirt.” There is now a new alliance being put together, in terms of trade unions supporting the London living wage campaign, because people cannot take it anymore.
A high profile union campaign last year saw the cleaners take strike action in July winning a 10% pay increase. But the cleaners still earn a mere £6.72 per-hour, the London living wage of £8.55 per-hour is a basic minimum to live on, which the employers could easily afford to pay.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Yellow squares on the windows : the occupation at Sussex University

A friend, local GP activist and trade unionist John Medhurst (copied in here) has invited me to cirulate this in case it's of use (for blogs, publication etc). I think he makes two points very well:

1. Greens are actively supporting the occupiers

2. This occupation is getting bigger all the time - and has widespread support.

I hope it's of interest.

Best wishes,


Yellow squares on the windows :
the occupation at Sussex University

Sunday 24th February.  The Occupation banners were flapping in an icy cold breeze outside Bramber House of Sussex University, where a fluctuating number of students (a core group of 50 plus various supporters) had been  occupying the top floor conference room for 17 days in protest at the proposed privatisation of virtually every non academic function and facility on the campus.

As I live nearby, have a daughter at the University, and work on privatisation policy for the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), the least I could do was offer support.   In response to an e-mail, the students invited me to give a talk on privatisation and PCS’s campaigns against it.  

The privatisation at Sussex is one small – but now extremely visible and significant – example of a wave of outsourcing across the public sector.  In many ways privatisation of the UK’s public services is the core of this government’s philosophy.  Austerity has little to do with “balancing the books”.  With the loss of the UK’s AAA Credit rating, a triple dip recession and increasing public debt, austerity is clearly an economic failure.

But the Government’s cuts are not driven by economic necessity.  They are a political project to reduce what remains of the British welfare state to a patchwork of disconnected services delivered by private firms or charities. Pension “reform” will make people pay more, work longer, die sooner, and get less on retirement. Behind that lies the core agenda to privatise, as Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, let slip when he said “The changes will allow the government to forge ahead with our ambitious plans for public sector reform, since the new pension arrangements will be substantially more affordable to alternative providers in the private sector bidding for public sector contracts”.

The examples of public service privatisation are too numerous to mention.  My own union, PCS, faces a host of outsourcings across the civil service – government debt collection (after cutting debt management staff in HMRC), Criminal Fine Enforcement, the National Benefit Fraud Hotline (to Vertex), JSA online (to Capita), the helpline of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (to Sitel, which does not recognise trade unions), Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants (to local authorities, who may then outsource this last safety net for the destitute), and the Forensic Science Service (a privatisation slated by the police and the CPS!).  

There are many more.

Trade unions campaign against these, of course, but often in an ad hoc and defensive manner, and with an eye on the “twin track” approach – i.e. whilst we oppose privatisation in principle, we have to recognise it may proceed and have a duty to secure the best possible terms for our members (TUPE etc).  This is necessary, but not likely to turn the tide of privatisation, influence political and media debate, or synchronise with other protests.  By contrast, the imaginative, attention-grabbing strategies of the student protestors, the Occupy movement, UK Uncut etc do have that potential.

Sussex is a good example.  It began in May 2012 as a “standard” outsourcing – the University authorities led by Vice Chancellor Michael Farthing proposed to outsource “Total Facilities Management”, which is basically everything including  building management and maintenance services, cleaning services, estates management, fire safety management, grounds maintenance, laundry services, postal services, portering services, security services, waste disposal services, and all catering operations.   This will involve transferring 235 staff to the private sector. The plans were declared with no consultation with the NUS and scant communication with campus unions. Representations from the students to negotiate and discuss alternatives were ignored.

Farthing and his managers were not expecting what happened next.  On 7th February over 300 students occupied the top floor of the Bramber Building, the campus conference centre.  See it and subsequent mass demos on Youtube -  By the evening of 7th February students reported that uniformed dog handlers were wandering the campus.
The students bedded down and started a campaign that quickly went viral.  Through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Youtube, Indymedia etc they got the message out about their action. Solidarity and support flooded in.  Thousands have now  signed their Statement of Solidarity, including Noam Chomsky, Ken Loach, MPs Caroline Lucas (Green), John McDonnell and Peter Hain (Labour), Will Self, Owen Jones, Jonathan Miller, Tariq Ali, Frankie Boyle, and Mark Thomas.  Caroline Lucas addressed the students from inside the occupation -  The Statement is also packed with the signatures of Sussex University academics, as well as union officers and other sympathisers.

A rolling programme of innovative events and benefits has kept the issue live and spirits up.  Mark Steel and Josie Long have done gigs. Owen Jones and Laurie Penny drew massive applause for barnstorming speeches.  And on 8th March Noam Chomsky is due to Skype to the students in Bramber House!  The occupation has garnered support from students, workers and academics across the globe.
It also has enormous support on campus.  The first thing I noticed when I arrived were windows across the campus plastered with yellow   A4 paper,  the adopted sign of support for the occupation.  The yellow A4s are everywhere, a visible rebuke to Farthing.  Management have instructed local union reps that they are not to sign off e-mails sent from campus PCs with a message of support, but this has had little effect. When I arrived, lugging a big bag of PCS anti-privatisation and anti-austerity material, the security guards placed outside the main conference room were friendly, even holding the doors open.  The students told me that they were sympathetic and didn’t hassle them.

The main conference room was like a M.A.S.H tent.  Sleeping bags were pushed into corners, and walls were covered with leaflets and slogans.  Several laptops were set up on a desk by the balcony.  A long chaotic table run across the top of the room, overflowing with papers, books, food, pots and pans, and a big simmering wok.  I was well wrapped up, but still felt cold.  Some students hugged sleeping bags around themselves as we sat chatting. In the unusually cold weather, the heating system was apparently “faulty” and the authorities were not rushing to fix it.  There were two portable heaters, which made hardly any difference.
It was a Sunday afternoon and the constantly rotating cohort of occupying students were down to a hard core, but we pulled up some seats and had a good discussion.  As well as bringing them a personal message of support for their action from PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka, I told them about PCS’s campaigns against privatisation and the more general anti-austerity campaigning of trade unions.  They were not naive about efforts made to separate students and campus unions and were determined to see that did not happen.

They were very clear on the links between specific instances of outsourcing and the general policies of all governments since Thatcher to shift the education curriculum towards a diet of business friendly subjects whilst de-emphasising the humanities and social sciences, with the aim of producing well schooled future employees burdened with debt and unaware of past struggles or social injustice.  They pointed to a new building opposite  – once intended for Sociology, it now taught Business Studies.

When I left they were preparing for another night on the floor of the conference centre.  What impressed me most was that they do not have to do this. Most outsourced services will still be delivered, though   probably not as well. The transferred jobs are not theirs. But they are there to defend the principle of an integrated higher education community that looks after all on campus (students and staff), against that of fragmented services delivered for corporate profit on the backs of outsourced and de-unionised workers.

Seeing the occupation for myself, I was reminded of the end of the appropriately titled Appeal to the Young by the anarchist writer Peter Kropotkin – “all of us together, we who suffer and are insulted daily, we are a multitude whom no man can number, we are the ocean that can embrace and swallow up all else. When we have but the will to do it, that very moment will Justice be done: that very instant the tyrants of the Earth shall bite the dust”.

John Medhurst PCS (personal capacity)

Updated  Thursday 28th FebruaryIn response to Registrar John Duffy’s statement that even if all students and staff complained about the privatisation it would make no difference, two further buildings on the Sussex campus were occupied.  The students issued the following statement:
Students and staff have occupied the Jubilee lecture theatre.  This is currently the third occupied space on campus.  We have taken this space temporarily as a portent of things to come.

These actions are part of a broad movement to halt the privatisation of services and bring attention to management’s refusal to engage in any form of dialogue. John Duffy has stated that even if all students and staff personally expressed concerns over outsourcing, that the process would go ahead regardless.   They have left us no choice. We will disrupt, block and destroy their ability to manage our campus.
We wish to extend greetings and solidarity to the organisers of the event that we disrupted. After discussion with us they professed their support for our cause and our actions. Our quarrel lies with management, and we recognise that our interests ultimately lie together. Indeed, in taking spaces such as these we hope to materialise that unity.

Once again we re-state our demands:
• An immediate end to the privatisation process
• An immediate end to management intimidation and attempts to stifle dissent
• The establishing of a means for us to hold management to account

Here, we have demonstrated our power. We leave the Jubilee and Michael Chowen lecture theatres with management on the back foot. Let them know that we will continue to escalate until they capitulate to our demands.
We call on all staff and students to join us. To reclaim the spaces of our campus.  To strike. To occupy.    The university is a factory – shut it down. 

Friday, 1 March 2013

Remploy Closure Date Marks ‘Black Day For Bridgend’

acknowledgements to Andy Chyba

Remploy Closure Date Marks ‘Black Day For Bridgend’ – Glamorgan Gazette 28/02/13 March 1, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — swanseaandllanelligreenparty @ 9:07 pm 
We are told in the Glamorgan Gazette this week that the Remploy factory gates will close for a final time on 28th March.
Not many people realise that the Bridgend factory was actually the very first to become operational, way back in 1946, when times were much, much harder than they they are now, in the immediate aftermath of WWII. Since 1946, the state-owned company Remploy has been the UKs leading specialist employer of disabled people, with some 3,000 people on its payroll until recently.
Despite pleas from unions, workers and their families, Remploy executives say they have no alternative but to press ahead with the closures and sell offs, arguing that their hand has been forced by cuts in government funding. The company is making a loss of more than £50million per year, although union officials say this could be reduced to £7million by streamlining the management and other measures. A local Remploy worker argues that: Remploy is top heavy with non-disabled directors and senior managers who make no contribution to the Remploy factory network. About 80 per cent of senior management are able bodied . . . And they have bled the company dry. Indeed, while the vast majority of the factory floor (disabled) workers have been earning £13k, senior management (non-disabled) have been on £150k+. Bear mind that Green Party policy would have it that the maximum wage in any organisation would be no more than ten times the minimum wage in any organisation.
Those made redundant when the factories close will find it extremely difficult to find another job. They are at the back of a very long queue of 2.67 million unemployed people. And it wouldn’t be the first time the Government’s numbers didn’t add up too. A year claiming ESA amounts to £5k, which is still cheaper than the cost of supported employment for a year. But what about a lifetime of unemployment, and the costs to health services associated with the mental and physical effects of long term unemployment? We must then add the cost of decommissioning the factories, and paying redundancy pay to the employees and securing their pensions (assuming, perhaps naively, that the Government will honour these standard employment rights). The closure will probably be a false economy, making 1700 people redundant when millions are being spent on welfare benefits and welfare to work support.
In any case, and as we know, a decent society based on social justice is not just about the bottom line, the basis of decisions made by capitalists. Tories are incapable of understanding the value of dignity, self-respect and inclusivity. If it can’t turn a profit, can’t produce surplus value for them to feed their greed, they are not interested.
Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary, said: This is a heartless decision by a government that has shown very little interest in protecting the livelihoods of severely-disabled people who need support in and out of work.
Phil Davies, of the GMB union, said: This is devastating news but not untypical from this uncaring government who cannot be relied on to protect the vulnerable.”
Glen Holdom, GMB officer for Remploy staff, says of the plans that taking jobs from disabled people should not be tolerated in a civilised society. It will not improve the countrys financial situation it may well make it worse.
Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union, has denounced the action as barbaric . . . The government has sunk to a new low.
Despite unemployment standing at a 16-year high, the government is expecting these redundant workers to find jobs in mainstream employment. But what happened to those who lost their jobs in the first round of Remploy layoffs, started in 2008 by the Labour government when it shut 28 factories? 86% are still unemployed.
So what is the PR spin on this particular example of government callousness? Last year Liz Sayce, then chief executive of Radar, the Royal Association for Disability Rights (now Disability Rights UK), controversially called Remploy factories ghettoes operating a glass ceiling with non-disabled people largely running the organisation and disabled people working in it.Sayce has gone on to produce a government-commissioned report, in the name of Radar, which is now being used to justify the closures. The work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith was quoted as saying the state should not fund Victorian-era segregated employment. The Department for Work and Pensions added that: For many, Remploy factories can lead to institutionalisation and isolation of disabled people.
This is not the way the Bridgend work force see it (as reported in the Gazette). It is a black day for Bridgend, according to employee of 14 years Mike Ahearn, who was made redundant in January. Over the years, the factory has looked after countless disabled people and not only looked after them but provided meaningful employment he said. Helen Doyle, who will work her last day on March 28, said: It is the end of an era. It is sad, not only for the people working here now but for future generations of disabled people. There will be nothing for them once Remploy has gone.
Green Party policy states: The Green Party recognises that the majority of disabled people live in poverty and will work towards ensuring that this is addressed through its income policies and by ensuring effective equality of opportunity in education, training and employment (DY500). I am here to tell you that this would most surely mean not just a reversal of these callous decisions, but an extension of employment opportunities such that all who want to work for their living (at a living wage, rather than the inadequate minimum wage) will have the opportunity to do so – just like the rest of society.
It is increasingly clear that only the Green Party recognises that fair is worth fighting for.

Will Duckworth. Green Party of England and Wales Deputy Leader, speaking at the Green Party Trade Union Group AGM at GPEW Spring conference 23/2/2013

Will Duckworth. Green Party of England and Wales Deputy Leader, speaking at the Green Party Trade Union Group AGM at GPEW Spring conference 23/2/2013