Remploy strike dates set, as ministers wield axe on 54 factories
Remploy workers faced with the dole queue are to stage two 24-hour strikes as the coalition gears up to close or sell-off the 54 factories that provide employment for disabled workers.
Unite, the largest union in the country, announced today (5 July) that its members will stage the strikes on Thursday, 19 July and Thursday, 26 July. A continuous overtime ban starts on Thursday, 12 July.
Remploy workers, members of the Unite and GMB unions, voted by large margins to take industrial action.
The workers are devastated by the coalition’s plans and have voted to strike because they believe the proposed closure negotiations were ‘a sham’; in protest at the intention to make disabled people compulsorily redundant for the first time at Remploy; and that the redundancy pay will be less than previous voluntary redundancies.
Unite members voted 59.7 per cent in favour of strike action and 76.1 per cent voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike.
The GMB members voted 79.5 per cent in favour of industrial action, including strike action and 87 per cent for action short of strike action.
Unite’s national officer for the not-for-profit sector, Sally Kosky said: “This vote for strike action demonstrates our members’ disgust at the way they have been treated by the government’s policies which are designed to throw them on the dole queue at a very difficult economic time.
“Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith - the uncaring face of the coalition – has provoked this strike at Remploy by refusing to listen to the economic arguments. His decision is based on right-wing dogma.
“Our members are desperate to work in an environment that takes account of their disability and where they can make a valued contribution to society and pay their way.”
Phil Davies, GMB National Secretary, said: “The government's intention to destroy thousands of disabled workers jobs in Remploy has given rise to an overwhelming vote for strike action against the proposed closures of their 54 factories.
“These closures are going ahead without any consideration of the feelings and needs of these workers and their families or their future job prospects. To close a factory that employs disabled people in the present economic climate is a sentence to life of unemployment and poverty."
Unite and the GMB have been campaigning to keep the Remploy factories open as viable businesses and cite the recent upbeat assessment of Remploy’s future prospects from Alan Hill, Managing Director, Remploy Enterprise Businesses who wrote that: “We have grown our sales by 12.2%, a fantastic achievement.”
A total of 36 Remploy sites are due to close or be sold off in the near future, with the remaining 18 due to close or be sold-off next year.
The 27 factories where Unite has members can be viewed on the link: http://www.unitetheunion.org/remploynotforsale