In response to the coordinated union campaign against the closure of Remploy factories for disabled workers, minister Peter Hain has claimed there is a ‘good future’ for the factories.
His comments came as unions fighting to save the factories launched a scathing attack on the company’s management.
Speaking at the Labour conference last week, GMB union general secretary Paul Kenny said there had been a huge level of ‘mismanagement’ and accused the firm of showing disrespect to its workforce.
Unions are fighting controversial plans to close 42 sites across Britain, with the loss of around 2,500 jobs.
Hain promised there would be no compulsory redundancies for Remploy’s disabled workers. Though he did not promise the same for Remploy’s able bodied workers.
Hain promised to help Remploy secure more public sector contracts. He said, ‘I have also made clear to Remploy management that no factory closures will take place without the agreement of government ministers.
‘And, whatever the final shape of that agreement the government will provide a subsidy of more than half a billion pounds over five years, a £555 million package, for Remploy to have a successful future.
However, this subsidy seems to be the same £555 million that was announced a year ago by the then disabled persons minister Anne McGuire before the closures were announced.
Shop stewards from the GMB, Unite and Community unions decided to defer any industrial action for 28 days so that discussions could take place with the workforce about the future of the factories.
North east GMB regional secretary Tom Brennan said of Hain’s offer, ‘This is excellent news and is exactly what we have been campaigning for.
‘There will be no closures this year and we will be making every effort to retain every Remploy factory. I think the government has recognised the trade union campaign on Remploy was a worthy one.’
Brian Davies the Wigan based national deputy convenor, who has been on a month long 3,000 mile campaign across the country, he said, ‘All that travel and effort was worthwhile. I think they probably realised it would have been political suicide to close the factories, but we are relieved that our jobs are safe.’
Remploy worker John Brooks from Wales said, ‘It’s good news that they have suspended factory closures to carry out a review but we can’t rest on our laurels. We’ve got to keep the fight up until the government say there will be no factory closures.
‘Now we need to make sure we are moving forward in the right way – what we really want is that email saying everything’s going to be OK.’
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