It is understood postponement could allow talks on terms of contracts being offered to 3 potential buyers for medical equipment factories in Derbyshire and Scotland

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Senior Remploy union reps say plans for 4-day strikes at two key factories in the group facing closure or sell-off have been put back a week, pending possible talks with employers.

The GMB and Unite had originally scheduled strikes at the sites in Chesterfield and Glasgow (pictured) to begin on Tuesday (28 August).

The two factories – which manufacture specialised medical equipment for the NHS – have been saved from immediate closure pending negotiations with three possible buyers.

However, it is understood that because of concerns Remploy Healthcare might mount a legal challenge to the industrial action, the dates have been put back until 3 – 6 September.

Senior activists in the union consortium say this offers a ‘window of opportunity’ to management and officials at the Department of Work and Pensions to amend clauses in contracts being offered to potential buyers which limit pension and redundancy protection for existing employees to just six months.

Earlier, Phil Davies, GMB national secretary, said: “Members at Remploy Chesterfield and [Glasgow] Springburn are concerned that no information about three potential buyers has been given to them.

“The DWP has removed the obligation for a new employer to provide a pension.

“We understand that all three potential buyers may want to make redundancies based on the individual disability.”

Last week, 25 factories were closed under DWP plans to shut down or sell all Remploy’s 54 sites across the UK, making up to 1,800 workers redundant.

Most of them are disabled and many have worked for Remploy for up to 30 years.

There is widespread concern among the workforce that their average age and the nature of their disabilities mean most of them will find it virtually impossible to find a job outside Remploy.

Kevin Hepworth, Unite chair of the union consortium, said: “Last Thursday and Friday were the worst days of this government’s life.

“To attack the most vulnerable in our society and throw them on the scrap heap is an act against disabled people.

“There has been no thought about this.

“[Work and Pensions Secretary] Iain Duncan Smith has avoided meeting the trade unions. This shows the massive divide between those in power and those who cannot defend themselves.”


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