On Monday of this week Remploy announced that three factories—Chesterfield, Springburn and Bridgend—are being sold off.
Workers at Chesterfield struck for five days in the run-up to the announcement. They were extremely angry that management had delayed making a decision about the future of the site.
Striker John Lloyd told Socialist Worker, “Management are not keeping us informed and many of us are feeling extremely stressed and are being made unwell by the whole process.”
The strike was solid and determined with a lot of local support. Pickets held a protest at a major traffic interchange near the factory, with a huge banner and supporters waving placards. The response of people tooting in support was deafening.
The company has now announced a buyer—and said it would not guarantee “continued employment of all employees at the site.”
Senior steward Kevin Shand said “For over a year the Chesterfield factory has been prepared for privatisation. And managers at the Remploy plants across the country have been promised bonuses for shutting factories on time. All this is fuelling our anger”
But the determination of the Remploy workers is still not being matched by union leaders.
So far 24 factories have closed. Another 18 are set to close by April. Three factories in Stoke, Edinburgh and Aberdeen are all due to shut by Christmas. More than half of the Stoke workforce finished last week.
Neil Box, 58, who has worked there for almost 20 years, said he felt “terrible and depressed” about his future. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Thanks to James Eaden
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