March over job losses

Battle: Remploy workers at a previous demonstration outside the Guild Hall last year
Battle: Remploy workers at a previous demonstration outside the Guild Hall last year
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Disabled workers from Preston who are set to lose their jobs gathered in London for a rally.

In March, the government announced Remploy’s E-Cycle base, on Longridge Road, Ribbleton, is among the 36 centres due to close nationwide.

A total of 18 staff, including 16 disabled people, work at the site which recycles computer and IT components.

Nationally, the closures will lead to compulsory redundancies for 1,752 Remploy workers, of which 1,518 are disabled.

Remploy employees from the city met with Preston MP Mark Hendrick at the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Mr Hendrick said: “It’s tragic what’s happening.

“There are one million young people unemployed, two million generally.

“It’s absolutely outrageous, we’re furious.”

Around 250 Remploy staff from around the country descended on the capital for the protest.

Mr Hendrick said: “We had three (workers) down from Preston who I met with afterwards. They are disgusted really with the way they are being treated. They are very dedicated, hard-working people.”

The government believes the factories are “non-viable” and they should close and the money invested into other schemes.

Remploy is sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions and Minister for Disabled People Maria Miller previously said the £320m budget for disability employment would be used in a different way.

But Mr Hendrick added: “The campaign is going to continue. We have talked about occupying the factories, direct action. The Remploy workers are not going to take this lying down.

“When they lose their jobs at Remploy, the chances are they will never work again in their lives. There is no alternative employment.”

Mr Hendrick spoke of hundreds of job losses in recent days in Preston, including Shop Direct, London Road, which is earmarked for closure and administration-hit firm Clinton Cards, which has branches in Friargate Walk and the Fishergate Centre.

Phil Davies, GMB national secretary said: “It is now clear that this government will use the money that was earmarked to support the direct employment of disabled people to privatise its Employment Services business.

“It is outrageous that the government can take away the jobs of disabled workers the length and breadth of the country to carry out an ideologically motivated privatisation.”