The second day of strikeaction at the Leeds Remploy factory saw large numbers of pickets once again. A delegation from the PCS DWP group executive came down early on to support the strike as did members of other local trade unions.
Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party
The pickets’ anger showed with chants of ‘Maria Miller Factory Killer’ directed at the government minister directing the closures of the factories. Peter Williams who has worked here for 33 years said: “The government are doing it all wrong, David Cameron has gone back on his word. Before they came into power he said that he would help disabled people and elderly people.” John Buttress who has worked at Remploy for 36 years added: “He says we can all get jobs, but my two young able-bodied sons who are 18 and 23 can’t get jobs”.
Whilst a small picket was left on the factory, most of the pickets went toa 100 strong lunchtime rally in Victoria Gardens with delegations from PCS, UNISON, CWU, UNITE, NASUWT as well as other members of local GMB branches. Speakers including myself on behalf of the Socialist Party, DWP President Fran Heathcote, Leeds TUC President Sheila Banks, GMB Regional Secretary Tim Roache offered support and solidarity to the workers on strike.
Even despite the presence of Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves, who also spoke at the rally, one GMB member spoke specifically to highlight the fact that Labour oversaw the closure of 29 Remploy factories in 2008 and demanded that if Labour wanted to really show their support for Remploy workers they should commit themselves to re-opening all closed Remploy factories.
That there is some frustration at the role of the Labour Party, which GMB is affiliated to, should come as no suprise given that 25% of the motions to the recent GMB conference were about this very link. The idea of a new workers party and support for TUSC has received a warm reception amongst pickets, as did the NSSN’s upcoming lobby of the TUC on Septmber 9th calling for a general strike against the government’s austerity attacks.