I guess there are parallels with the closing of the long stay psychiatric hospitals, the dispersal of the institutionalised patients across an unprepared collection of local authority social services, community mental health teams and charitable operations. That the outcomes were an equally mixed bag is a fact of history. There is an argument that the reasonable adjustments the Equalities Act might call for to allow the ex-Remploy employees to integrate into another, non-specialist workplace might make re-employment a possibility. However, the same argument might leave the existing workforce disenchanted at what might appear to be ‘positive discrimination’ – divisive and counter-productive to all parties.
The other view might be, as with the ex-asylum patients, it affects relatively few people – so who cares, given time the problem will go away on its own.
That says some dismal things about our society and the value it places on the needs of minorities.
The WEA works on the principle that equality, diversity and inclusion are better for everyone and I blogged in August 2012 on The Paralympics, ATOS and Remploy. The blog is here.
At the time I wrote that:
The Government’s rationale for the factory closures is that disabled people shouldn’t be segregated at work.
The test will be what happens to the workers who lose their jobs and whether suitable alternatives really are available in integrated workplaces.
The last three Remploy factories in Blackburn, Sheffield and Neath closed on 31 October ending 60 years of specialist employment for people with a disability. The final closures put 150 more people out of work and marked the end of a decline since the late 1980s when Remploy employed more than 10,000, mostly disabled, people across 94 sites.
Statistics are available now to show what’s happened so far to ex-employees. A feature on page 5, Issue 1352, of Private Eye reports…
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