Remploy Strike Ballot

3 Feb 2011

Remploy disabled workers are to seek authority from the GMB‘s central executive council for a strike ballot over redundancies as there is little point in adding more disabled workers to the dole queues since, “we know that they are not going to get other jobs” says GMB. Disabled workers employed by Remploy who are GMB members will seek authority from the GMB Central Executive Council (CEC), when it meets on Tuesday 15th February 2011, to conduct an official strike ballot over redundancies in the 54 sheltered workshops across Britain.

The remaining 57 Remploy factories are in Aberdare, Aberdeen, Abertillery, Acton, Ashington, Barking, Barrow, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Blackburn, Bolton, Bridgend, Bristol, Burnley, Chesterfield, Cleator Moor, Clydebank, Coventry, Cowdenbeath, Croespenmaen, Derby, Dundee, Edinburgh, Gateshead, Heywood, Huddersfield, Leeds, Leicester, Leicester Head Office, Leven, Manchester, Merthyr Tydfil, Motherwell, Neath Port Talbot, Newcastle, North London, North Staffordshire, Norwich, Oldham, Penzance, Pontefract, Poole, Porth, Portsmouth, Preston, Sheffield, Southampton, Spennymoor, Springburn, Stirling, Sunderland, Swansea, Wallasey, Wigan, Worksop and Wrexham.

Remploy last week told GMB that proposals for voluntary redundancy were being rolled out across the company from Monday 31st January 2011. This was just 7 days after the legal consultation period of 90 days commenced on the 24th January 2011. Remploy went on to inform over 3,400 employees by letter on the 26th January 2011 just 3 days after the official consultation commenced on the 24th January 2011 that the redundancy package would be rolled out on Monday 31st January 2011 and that they should seek to volunteer for redundancy.

The GMB CEC will be told that following the closure of 29 Remploy factories in 2008 the vast majority of workers (85%) who were made redundant are still unemployed and on benefits with no prospects of finding work. The GMB CEC will also be told that the Remploy management have made little of no progress in finding work for the remaining Remploy factories in spite of the fact that the EU rules allow public bodies to place orders with sheltered workshop outside or normal procurement arrangements. The GMB CEC will be advised of an alternative plan that the Remploy unions has put to the government as an alternative way ahead. Part of than plan is to reverse the rise in the number of managers which had increased despite the reduction in the number of factories and shop floor workers. In total the Remploy unions have put forward a plan to cut £30million from costs while making Remploy viable.

Phil Davies, GMB National Secretary said, “I will be seeking authority from the GMB CEC for an official strike ballot over the way that the Remploy management have dealt with the latest proposals for redundancy in the remaining Remploy factories. Not only is Remploy breaking their own agreements it is definitely breaking the law.  Remploy is sending letters on a weekly basis to the disabled employees, many of whom have learning difficulties and mental health issues.  These letters are causing them extreme stress.

Remploy has a legal obligation to consult with the trade unions to try to reduce job losses. The Remploy unions want to enter a real dialogue with the Government to find a way ahead for a viable Remploy. There is little point in adding more disabled workers to the dole queues since we know that they are not going to get other jobs. GMB public services section today tracked 150,059 posts under threat in 260 councils across Britain. There are nearly a million able bodied young workers on the dole seeking work. It is high time that the UK government put in place a realistic strategy to take advantage of the EU rules on procurement for disabled work shops.

A good start will be to get rid of the existing Remploy management which would save up to £13million per year.”