At the time, Frank Roy was quoted as saying:
“I am delighted Remploy have accepted my proposal to keep the Wishaw factory open by partially turning the Netherton site into a training centre to help people throughout Lanarkshire get back to work.”
The GMB said:
“We have now got to prove ourselves financially. They want us to cut costs and that makes us feel annoyed as in five or six years we may need to go through the same process. If we don’t prove ourselves, we will close. This is just a reprieve ... It will stay open for possibly five or six years.”
It did not get six years—it got five years.
The problem with what happened in 2007 is that it set us on an inevitable path. At the start of 2007, Remploy at Netherton had more than 70 supported disabled workers. By the time the reprieve was won—Frank Roy said that he orchestrated it—the factory employed 53 workers. Today, there are only 22 supported disabled workers in Remploy in Netherton.
Mr Roy is quoted as saying:
“This is the wrong plan at the wrong time. Unemployment is going through the roof, and is higher in Scotland than the rest of the UK. Back to work schemes aren’t working, and the government think this is a good time to sack disabled workers. It is utterly shocking.”
“This is a cut too far from a government that doesn’t care.”
Although I agree with some of the points that Mr Roy has made, the betrayal of Remploy factory workers happened in 2007, when Labour failed to stop the restructuring plan. At that time, it was the UK Labour Government that did not care. The plan set in motion the inevitable decline of the Remploy factories, and the closures that we are discussing now are because of the decisions that were made in 2007.
Mary Scanlon made much of the cost difference between supported working places and disabled workers in mainstream employment, conflating two different types of employment that bear no relation to each other. It just goes to show that both the Labour Party and the Tories know the cost of everything but the value of nothing.