Workers face uncertain future as 3 companies bid to take over sites in Derbyshire and Scotland. Unions fear sale will trigger new redundancies, pay cuts


Scores of Remploy workers at two specialised factories in Scotland and Derbyshire have begun strike action today in a dispute over the sale of the sites to new employers.

(Pictured: Remploy workers on Glasgow picket, Monday)

Workers at the Chesterfield factory are scheduled to walk out for the rest of the week; the Glasgow strike is due to continue till Thursday.

GMB organiser, Bob McNeill – who is on the Chesterfield picket – told UnionNews: “The workers here are up for the fight.

“There are even questions being asked about whether they can continue the strike action beyond the end of this week.”

Three companies are bidding to take over the sites, which specialise in manufacturing equipment, such as wheelchairs, for the NHS.

Unions fear the buyer will cut pay for existing staff and begin a new round of redundancies based on the disabilities of individual workers.

However, union negotiators say both the company and ministers at the Department for Work and Pensions are avoiding speaking to them.

Speaking to UnionNews on the Glasgow picket, joint unions convenor for Scotland, Phil Brannan, said: “The DWP say ‘speak to Remploy’.

“Remploy say ‘speak to the DWP’.

“So, out of sheer frustration, we’re out on strike today.

“These strikes this year are the first at Remploy in 65 years. And the government needs to ask itself why relations have broken down to such an extent that low-paid disabled people are giving up wages to stand outside their factory on a cold, wet day to protest.”

24 Remploy factories were closed last month; eighteen more are earmarked for closure by the end of next year under a timetable drawn up by the DWP.

Workers at other Remploy factories are considering whether they can join the strike later this week.

(Pictured, right: Remploy workers face an uncertain future)

GMB national secretary Phil Davies said: “Members at Remploy Chesterfield and 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.”

Last month, Remploy activists occupied the company’s head office in Leicester in an effort to secure further information about the sale of the Chesterfield and Springburn factories and seven other sites due to be sold to new owners.

They were told that the Disabilities minister, Maria Miller wanted to meet them urgently to discuss the terms of the sale of the factories.

It is understood there has been no meeting to date.

Says Phil Brannan: “We will fight to the bitter end.

“We may not win this fight, but we will leave this factory, heads held high with our pride and dignity intact.

“The people who should be ashamed are Maria Miller, the government and Remploy.”

You can watch our film report on the strike here:

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