Doomed factory staff in loo row

Staff at Remploy, Pemberton, at a GMB Union meeting about strike action
Staff at Remploy, Pemberton, at a GMB Union meeting about strike action
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RELATIONS between Wigan disabled workers and their bosses have deteriorated further in a row over toilets.

Members of staff at Remploy downed tools and formed a picket line outside the Lamberhead Green factory following a shock announcement that the site is one of 27 to close early next month.

Only nine sites had come up with viable business plans, which will see them sold off to private companies.

But workers claim they were unable to access the site to use the disabled toilets - allegations which bosses deny.

Brian Davies, Wigan’s representative for GMB union, said: “We had a lot of wheelchair users outside and the managers would not let us in to use the disabled toilets. We just had to suffer.

“This is a so-called ‘caring’ company. We know we are taking industrial action, but this is petty.

“We are all disgusted – it is just cruel.”

Shaun Brickhall, member of GMB, said: “I asked them to use the toilets and they refused me entry.

“It’s appalling that a disabled person should be treated like that.”

But a Remploy spokesman denied this, stating that they were allowed to use the toilets, but not the canteen.

He said: “Pickets have been allowed to go to the toilet.

“There was an exchange of views over whether they could gain access to the canteen and that was refused.”

The workers are now preparing for their second strike on July 26.

Terry Abbott, secretary of TUC, said: “We are calling on the community and trade unions to get involved and support these workers.

“With so many people out of work, do you really think managers will take on disabled people?

“They need their jobs at Remploy!”

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said: “The picket shows the strength of support for Remploy workers in Wigan.

“The workers told me loud and clear that they want to keep their jobs.

“The government should not be putting them out of work without giving them any alternative.

“This shambolic process should be halted immediately, and workers must be given a fair chance to keep their factory open.”

A Remploy spokesman said: “The company is disappointed that the GMB and Unite Unions have called their Remploy members out on strike action.

“Strike action will do nothing to secure the future jobs of Remploy staff.

“We are concerned that industrial action could deter future buyers for the nine factories which are subject to the commercial process and for the current contracts and future prospects of the remaining 18 Remploy factories.”