Went along to the Remploy factory today to support their fight to remain open. The GMB Union "crusade" was in town for a rally and it really took me back to listen to some of the speakers. The last GMB Official has a broad Scots accent and addresses the meeting as "Comrades" it was like the old days when Unions fighting the government meant fighting Thatcherism and free market economics that decreed there was no social element to employment, if it could be done cheaper elsewhere then shut the factory!
Remploy does a fantastic job providing work for disabled people who want to work to support themselves and their families and not be reliant on benefits and hand outs. Unfortunately the Hartlepool Factory is one of many under threat of closure so Remploy can become a type of Disabled Person's Jobcentre rather than an actual place of work. There were some harsh words said about Big Charities (which are i my opinion too much like big business these days) and about public sector procurement that placed work overseas to save a few pennies but at the cost of closure of places like Hartlepool Remploy. When will the free market Tories in Westminster, sorry of course I mean the "New" Labour Government, realise that there must be a social aspect to employment and that the few quid saved is soon taken up by having people thrown onto the dole or social security.
The Hartlepool MP was there, although as a New Labor Drone he won't be doing anything in the Commons that might threaten his Junior minister job. There were also five Hartlepool Councillors. Five out of forty-seven. These were three independents, one Lib-Dem and myself. Not one single Labour Councillor turned up! Maybe this is something that the attendance watchers at High-Tax-Hartlepool might want to look into?
There was also no sign of the Mayor who is happy to turn up for the annual Remploy vs the Council photo opportunity, sorry, I mean 5 a side football challenge. I actually played in the very first game back in 2002 when Remploy invited the Council to send a team along to a sports day. In those days Remploy was in St.Hilda Ward and the three ward Councilors, the Mayor and a handful of other Councillors turned up, I seem to remember Carl Richardson went in Goal but we didn't actually have enough Councillors fit enough to get a 5 a side team so Remploy had to loan us a spare man to make up our side. Since then its become much better organised and the Mayor picks the team so I haven't been invited to play again.
The GMB crusade rolled off to the next threatened Remploy site, the MP did his bit on local radio and The Hartlepool Mail took a couple of photos. There is probably as much chance of saving Hartlepool Remploy as there is of saving Hartlepool Hospital. However as one of the people at the rally said "closures like this always happen under a Tory Government, and let's face it, in reality we've had one of those for the past 10 years".