Trade unions GMB, Unite and Community have urged public bodies to buy more goods from Remploy to stave off the closure of more than half the disabled employment provider’s factories.
The unions, which represent staff at Remploy’s 83 factories, have written to over 50,000 councillors, school governors and police authority members, urging them to increase their business with the employment provider for goods such as electrical appliances, wheelchairs and office furniture.
They claim spending on Remploy products currently amounted to a “minuscule” 0.024% of public procurement spending, which stands at £136bn.
GMB, Unite and Community are campaigning against Remploy’s decision to close 32 factories and merge 11 others with neighbouring sites, announced in May.
The unions argue that Remploy has failed to take adequate advantage of changes in European legislation which allows public authorities to award orders to supported workshops without going through the competitive tendering process.
A national demonstration calling at the 43 affected factories will begin in Aberdeen on 28 August and end at the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth on 24 September. A national strike ballot will also take place in all 83 Remploy factories in September.
A Remploy spokesperson said: “We are working closely with the unions on increasing the work we gain through public procurement and we have appointed a senior manager dedicated to growing these opportunities.”
She added that it was “disappointing” that the unions were talking about a national strike ballot as this could only have a “detrimental effect” on Remploy’s chances of gaining and retaining business, and was “premature”.
Staff move closer to strike over Remploy factory cuts