When the factory closed, the GMB along with their associates on the Remploy Trade Union Consortium started a campaign to re-open the factory. The basis was that there was very little alternative manufacturing work in the area and consequently the chance of finding disabled workers, from the factory, suitable employment was very slim.
A delegation of Senior Trade Union officials, Shop Stewards and ex-employees met Gordon Brown at the Spring Labour Party Conference in Birmingham on March 1st 2008. Gordon Brown committed himself to looking again at the situation; he never did fulfill that commitment.
Senior GMB consortium members, led by Phil Davies, decided to look into the possibility of forming a workers co-operative that would give employment to the former disabled York workers in an environment similar to Remploy.
Initially, the York Disabled Workers Cooperative (YDWC) would be producing garden furniture products; It would be Trade Union recognised and aim to be the Gold standard in the employment of disabled people. We would therefore be looking to the Trade Union and wider Labour Movement to give us any support they could.
The idea of a Workers Cooperative was tested out. The Remploy Trade Union Consortium funded an ex-employee, John Wilson, to carry out a feasibility study for 3 months. John was then funded by the GMB Yorkshire Region for a further 3 months and it became apparent the idea would be successful. Eventually on the 13th May 2010, we signed the documents under the Cooperative and Provident Societies Rules and the "York Disabled Workers Cooperative Ltd" was born.
We have moved into premises that are accessible in the centre of York; we have employed a number of people including one of the Remploy workers, bought machinery and now run a successful business. We have now started producing pet accommodation and garden products such as, nest boxes, planters, bird tables, bat boxes etc.