Every Worker Deserves Fair Pay - James Stribley Featured on unionstogether 16th October

20 Oct 2014

I’m a disabled worker. I worked at a Remploy factory from the time I left school to the time the factories closed, starting out as a welder. In my later years of employment I represented other workers as a trade union convenor across Yorkshire.

I should have been surprised by Lord Freud’s comments yesterday but I wasn’t.

From a government that has attacked disabled people at every turn - from ATOS to the Bedroom Tax and beyond - it’s what we’ve come to expect.

I’ve struggled to find work since Remploy closed, it’s almost a year now since we said goodbye to the last factory, but I’m one of the lucky ones who has occasionally had agency work and at the moment I’m stewarding football games (unfortunately as a Sheffield United fan, I’ve been subjected to Leeds games, a way to kick a bloke when he’s down…) but so many of the people I worked alongside haven’t gone on to new jobs. Imagine how they felt, sat at home worrying how they’re going to pay their bills, when a government that tells them to ‘try harder, work more, help yourselves - oh but by the way there are no jobs’ - says people like us are somehow worth less than other workers. Because that’s what Lord Freud’s comment were, they were telling us that when we go out to work every day, we don’t deserve equal treatment.

It’s rubbish. And offensive rubbish at that.

I can say from first-hand experience that the disabled workers I’ve worked alongside did a cracking job. They were grafters who often had to try a little bit harder to get the job done but got the job done nonetheless.

I can say that, but I shouldn’t have to.

A disability pay gap already exists. Disabled workers - and particularly disabled women – get paid less than those without disabilities. Maybe the government should start with looking at that, rather than saying it’s ok to pay us even less.

James Stribley, Equality Campaigner and Trade Unionist

If you are just as disgusted as we are that Lord Freud thinks disabled people do not deserve a fair wage, visit http://www.unionstogether.org.uk/lordfreud and sign the petition to call for his resignation.