Remploy workers are to stage two 24-hour strikes in protest at the Government’s plans to close or sell-off 54 factories that provide employment for disabled workers.

Trades union Unite has announced that its members will strike on Thursday, July 19 and Thursday, July 26. In addition, a continuous overtime ban starts on Thursday, July 12.Thirty-six Remploy sites are due to close or be sold off in the near future, with the remaining 18 due to close or be sold-off next year.

Unite members voted 59.7% in favour of strike action and 76.1% voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike. Meanwhile, fellow union the GMB also balloted its members on strike action; 79.5% voted in favour of industrial action, including strike action and 87% voted for action short of strike action. Rempoy workers voted to strike because they believe the proposed closure negotiations were ‘a sham’; in protest at the intention to make disabled people compulsorily redundant for the first time at Remploy; and that the redundancy pay will be less than previous voluntary redundancies, according to Unite.

Unite’s national officer for the not-for-profit sector, Sally Kosky said: “This vote for strike action demonstrates our members’ disgust at the way they have been treated by the government’s policies which are designed to throw them on the dole queue at a very difficult economic time.“Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith - the uncaring face of the coalition – has provoked this strike at Remploy by refusing to listen to the economic arguments. His decision is based on right-wing dogma.“Our members are desperate to work in an environment that takes account of their disability and where they can make a valued contribution to society and pay their way.”

Phil Davies, GMB national secretary, added: “The Government's intention to destroy thousands of disabled workers jobs in Remploy has given rise to an overwhelming vote for strike action against the proposed closures of their 54 factories.“These closures are going ahead without any consideration of the feelings and needs of these workers and their families or their future job prospects. To close a factory that employs disabled people in the present economic climate is a sentence to life of unemployment and poverty."