More than 150 workers at Remploy factories across the region will lose their jobs.
A total of five factories will be affected - Spennymoor, Gateshead, Newcastle, and Ashington in the North East, and Cleator Moor in Cumbria.
The move has provoked anger from workers and some Labour MPs who've called it 'a cruel act'. But ministers insist that many disability groups now accept that it is no longer appropriate to have segregated workplaces.
An £8 million support programme has been put in place to support those affected.
More top news
Calmer conditions - for now.
The 12.5 hour walkout by 63 GMB members got under way at 6am this morning and will continue until 6.30pm this evening.
37-year-old Graeme Haddon pleaded guilty to the offence which happened in his home village of Lamancha near West Linton at the weekend.