Work and pensions secretary Peter Hain today gave the green light to Remploy’s plan to close 28 of its 83 factories, which collectively employ 5,000 disabled people.
Despite the virulent opposition of the GMB and Unite, the unions representing Remploy staff, Hain said the plan, published this month, would ensure the company could bring its budget under control and support many more disabled people into mainstream employment.
Hain reiterated previous pledges that no disabled workers would be made compulsorily redundant and all staff would retain Remploy’s terms and conditions, including its final salary pension scheme. He also said that the plan included a 25% cut in management staff and a targeted 130% rise in the value of contracts with the public sector.
Peter Hain added: “Workers and management now need certainty to end the insecurity and worry for Remploy employees and their families and to allow Remploy management to begin radical changes that we all recognise are needed.”
In August, Hain appointed former Unison assistant general secretary Roger Poole to mediate between Remploy and the unions, after the latter had reacted originally to the original plan and threatened industrial action.
However, GMB general secretary Paul Kenny attacked his decision today, saying that none of the factory closures was necessary and that the unions would continue to campaign against them. He added: “This announcement by Peter Hain has angered Remploy workers and their supporters. This government-controlled operation has failed its people, its principles and its purpose.”
The number of factory closures is a reduction from the 43 earmarked in Remploy’s first modernisation plan, published in May, while the public sector procurement target of £461m over five years is significantly above the company’s original goal of £298m.
However, the unions issued a rival plan with no factory closures, but with a lower spending cap on Remploy’s employment service – which helps people into mainstream employment – than the company had proposed itself.
Union campaign against closures