Workers will man the pickets today in a bid to get the government to listen

ACTION Members of the UNITE union on the picket line at the Remploy factory in Rodney Road in Fratton
ACTION Members of the UNITE union on the picket line at the Remploy factory in Rodney Road in Fratton

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THE second of three strikes was today due to get underway at the Remploy offices in Fratton.

Staff at the state-run factory are joining colleagues from around the UK in holding a strike, aimed at persuading work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith to save Remploy from closure.

Today’s strike builds on one held last week, which saw Remploy’s employees collecting signatures outside the Rodney Road factory, and attracting beeps from cars in support of their cause.

The strikes have been organised by the GMB and Unite unions, and a third is expected to be held on August 6.

Unite says the government could do more to help some of the 1,700 Remploy staff find new work.

In Wales, the Welsh Assembly has pledged £2.4 million for employers who give jobs to Remploy workers when the factories in Wales close.

Unite’s national officer for the not-for-profit sector, Sally Kosky said: ‘Last week’s strike was massively supported by the workforce, members of the public, trade unions and disability organisations.

‘The government needs to hear the very loud call that there needs to be a radical change of policy over the future of the Remploy factories.’

Phil Davies, GMB national secretary, added: ‘When the first wave of factory closures happen by the end of the year, we will see about 1,700 disabled workers thrown onto the dole queue, at a time when those out of work for more than two years is at its worst rate since 1997.’

Earlier this month, the government announced that the 27 factories will close by the end of the year, and a further nine factories face an uncertain future.

The remaining 18 sites are due to close or be sold-off next year - including Portsmouth.

The 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 in Remploy’s history.